Esko School Board approves continuing sports, activities

The School Board approved a list of items that would either continue or be delayed/canceled while the students were in distance learning.

Esko Public Schools
Esko Public Schools in Esko, Minnesota. (2019 file / Cloquet Pine Journal)
2019 file / Cloquet Pine Journal

The Esko School Board approved Tuesday night continuing A- and B-level sports as well as activities focused on juniors and seniors during distance learning.

The School Board approved a list of items that would either continue or be delayed/canceled while the students were in distance learning. Esko Public Schools announced Friday, Nov. 6 that all students would move to distance learning starting Nov. 16 through Dec. 4, though many board members Tuesday night spoke in favor of continuing distance learning until January.

Esko School Board members agreed to allow A- and B-level sports — similar to varsity and junior varsity — to continue under the condition that athletes asked to quarantine due to a positive COVID-19 case or a close contact with a positive COVID-19 case do so or risk their entire team’s season or their eligibility to participate in that sport.

Another topic of discussion was whether or not to allow community education adult classes to continue. Superintendent Aaron Fischer said he recommended canceling these classes so the district would not be inviting outside community members into their buildings, especially with COVID-19 cases on the rise in Carlton County.

Board member Maggie Sunnarborg advocated keeping the classes while disclosing that she participates in a Zumba class held by community education with 14 other women. Currently, Esko Community Education is only hosting two classes, the Zumba class and an art class held at the Buffalo House, but if distance learning were to continue into January, more classes would be affected.


Board members Todd Rengo and Jeff Salo spoke out against allowing the classes to continue given the new restrictions put on gatherings by an executive order signed by Gov. Tim Walz Tuesday.

The executive order states all social gatherings must be limited to 10 or fewer people and involve no more than three households.

Sunnarborg made a motion to keep community education adult classes while following the governor’s new executive order. The motion passed 4-2 with Rengo and Salo voting no.

Other items approved to continue or be canceled/delayed included:

  • Continuing to pay hourly employees.

  • Require staff to work on-site during distance learning unless otherwise approved by their supervisor.

  • Allow the Esko Fitness Center to remain open for physical therapy, for use by five community members at a time and conditioning for student athletes.

  • Daycare services for teachers, staff and essential workers to continue.

  • Driver’s education will continue.

  • Preschool virtual programs will continue and bus drivers will be used to deliver curriculum packets.

  • Free box lunches for curbside pick-up will be available.

  • Youth sports and activities will be canceled for the time being.

  • Large activities such as concerts and dances will be canceled during distance learning.

  • The use of school facilities by outside groups will not be allowed during distance learning.

Adelle Whitefoot is a former reporter for the Duluth News Tribune.
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