Gov. Tim Walz today issued an executive order extending the school closure and distance learning through the end of the school year. Crookston Public Schools Superintendent Jeremy Olson said that was expected, and the district will move forward with planning for distance learning the rest of the school year. “It was pretty much expected,” said Olson. “We’ve been looking at this possibility for a few weeks. I think I communicated with my staff a couple of weeks ago that we needed to be ready and prepared for distance learning for the remainder of the school year. I haven’t met a single person that didn’t see that coming. I appreciate the governor coming out and giving us time to plan. Originally, we had plans in place through May 4. He had established May 1 and May 4 for planning, and we’re going to maintain and utilize those to plan for the rest of the year. Getting the knowledge in advance like this has been very helpful for helping us navigate our next steps as a district.”
Olson said that the academic calendar for the school district would remain the same as initially drafted, with the last day of classes on May 27. “Our academic calendar will remain exactly the same as it was presented,” said Olson. “So, looking at the calendar, the days scheduled for classes will have online classes. If there is a day that’s not originally scheduled for classes, we won’t be having classes on those days either. The only difference is May 1, and May 4 are planning days, so there won’t be any distance education. We will have child care for critical sector workers and food service on May 1 and May 4.”
According to Olson, the district currently intends to move forward with graduation on May 22 as the culminating event for seniors, although it is still unclear how graduation will look. “There are lots of ideas about graduation,” said Olson. “Everything we’re talking about at this point is about where the guidance is currently. We don’t know where that guidance will be on May 22. We are fairly committed, I’d say 99 percent committed, to having graduation on May 22. What that graduation looks like, is going to be dependent on the regulations and recommendations at that time. There are a lot of ideas out there – do you do something in a large venue so you can socially distance. We think that graduation is such an important capstone activity that if at all possible, we want to have physical graduation, but again, we want to do that in a safe manner. So, we’re looking at what does that look like. I’ve heard ideas of drive-through graduation, using a larger venue, and limiting the number of people with spacing people out grouped by families or so forth. There are a lot of ideas out there. We don’t have that nailed down. We are fairly committed to having May 22 be our graduation day, so we don’t interrupt that for our seniors. There have been so many interruptions for our seniors we’d like to keep something consistent. But whatever we do, we’re going to do so based on the recommendations from the health department.”
Olson also said summer programs would be evaluated on a month to month basis. However, currently, the district is leaning towards no programming, including no summer school, during June. “With this announcement, we still don’t know what summer looks like,” said Olson. “We still have some summer school, community ed, some of the summer programs we normally have. We’re going to go month to month, and at this point, I’m leaning towards not having any school activities or summer school during the month of June. We’re leaning towards not doing this, but we’re going to give it some time to see what the recommendations for social distancing are to make sure we’re acting in the best interest of children.”
An announcement from the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) is expected Friday morning following a 9 a.m. board meeting. The possibility of playing spring sports seasons during the summer months is reportedly still on the table, and MSHSL Executive Director Erich Martens has been on record saying he believes spring sports teams could play as late as July 1.