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Itasca Co. school leaders deliver update on fall return plans

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GRAND RAPIDS, MN -- On Thursday, Itasca County Health officials and school districts provided updates on where schools stand ahead of fall learning.

Based on the county's current COVID-19 numbers, most superintendents appear to be aiming for in-person learning but are staying flexible with hybrid or distance learning.

You can find a short recap of each school district's press briefing update below:

Dr. Jeff Pesta - Deer River Schools:

  • School board plans to meet Monday, Aug. 10.
  • District looking to offer "Warrior Online Program" & in-person option
  • Staff prepared to follow the needs of parents, students
  • Officials hope to reach out with more info, registration docs after next school board meeting
  • Based on demographics, a rolling start will be the safest option.
  • Pesta: In terms of keeping coronavirus numbers down, it is up to the community to help out

Brenda Spartz - Nashwauk-Keewatin Public Schools:

  • District currently working on "Restart Blueprint"
  • Leaders need to go over, implement recent state guidance
  • Plan to deliver info to parents ASAP
  • Aiming for in-person learning right now, but it won't be "business at usual"
  • Adding a part to learning plan for "remote classroom," giving families choice of distance learning

Matt Grose -- Grand Rapids/Bigfork:

  • School district committed to science, using what we know about coronavirus infections
  • Finding a transparent model for the community
  • Creating a way to communicate the learning system (shift if needed)
  • Plans for in-person learning for all students, asking the community to keep a positive trend going
  • Urging the community to remove the political component of wearing masks
  • Prioritizing wearing masks, so students can have an in-person connection
  • Making changes to lunch operations
  • Adding precautions on bus services (including sanitization)
  • Changing traffic flows in schools
  • Return plan to go before the school board for approval on Thursday, Aug. 6
  • Asking parents to tell the district what learning model students will use

David Pace -- Greenway Public Schools:

  • Recently working to develop different plans, and improve distance learning
  • Looking to start elementary, secondary schooling in-person
  • Movement will be restricted, lunchrooms to be limited
  • Avoiding congregations
  • All students will wear masks
  • Desk partitions in larger classes
  • Placing expectations on families to monitor students' health status
  • Ability to move to a hybrid model, distance learning
  • Still need to finalize plans in weeks ahead

Dan McKeon - Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School:

  • School board has voted to utilize a distance learning model with in-person supports
  • A high percentage of students have family members in the high-risk category
  • Choosing to start the school year online
  • Running bus routes every day for food delivery, bringing some students to school for counseling, tutoring
  • Fluid number of students showing up to school
  • Masks required in building
  • Leaders helping families get internet connection at home
  • Developing a system to get kids inside the school

Itasca County Health plans to hold another press briefing in two weeks.

WATCH LIVE: Itasca County to Discuss Fall Education Plans

WATCH LIVE: Itasca County officials plan to discuss the areas next step for the coming school year

Posted by CBS 3 Duluth on Thursday, August 6, 2020

Click here for current COVID-19 information from Itasca County.

Ryan Haff

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