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USC plans for in-school learning

By Staff | Aug 23, 2020

USC elementary principal Nick Jurrens explained the various plans for the school year to the USC School Board last week.

The United South Central School District unanimously passed a resolution at its meeting Tuesday, Aug. 18, approving the adoption of in-person learning as the base-learning model for the 2020-2021 school year.

Earlier in the meeting, elementary principal Nick Jurrens led a review of the three different learning models; in-person, hybrid and distance learning.

“We want to start the year off on a positive note and with a positive tone,” Jurrens said. “We know we will face challenges.”

Jurrens outlined the priorities in forming the plans.

“Safety, educational opportunities and providing support were the three main items we kept in mind when developing the 2020 learning models,” Jurrens commented.

The ability to switch from one plan to another is also important, according to Jurrens.

“Our aim is to promote consistency between the different plans,” Jurrens added. “This will allow us to easily switch between the different learning scenarios if it becomes necessary.”

Newly hired high school principal Julie Stauber addressed some other items covered by the plan.

“Social and emotional learning comprise a large part of the plan,” Stauber said.

Jurrens reminded the board USC was a one-to-one school which means every student is able to check out a computer from the school.

“We have also decided to waive the insurance fees on the devices this year,” Jurrens commented. “We are also working to ensure every child has access to the Internet.”

The school day will feature a staggered start, Jurrens added.

“The buses will pick up the non-Wells residents’ students first in the morning,” he noted. “After they drop those kids off the buses will go back out to pick up the kids with a Wells address.”

Principal Kelly Schlaak also spoke at the meeting and informed the board the new teacher staff development workshop has been scheduled for Aug. 26.

The latest figures released at the meeting showed a projected enrollment of 325 students in grades 7-12. Grades K-6 were projected to have an enrollment of 358 students.

In addition to reviewing the learning models, the board also watched a video presentation produced by the Minnesota State High School League entitled ‘Why We Play.’

“It is amazing how much we have missed the interaction with student/athletes because of the pandemic,” activities director Joe Kuechenmeister noted. “We are seeing other kids going out for fall sports instead of sitting around home doing nothing.”

The board also handled some personnel issues during the meeting. They accepted the resignations of Diane Fiebelkorn, a paraprofessional, effective Aug. 10. They also accepted the resignation of custodian Carl Sommer, effective Sept. 10.

Finally they approved the resignation of elementary administrative assistant Jackie Leesch, pending the hiring of a replacement.

The board also voted to grant a medical leave request to Heidi McClurg beginning Sept. 18 for approximately six weeks.

Contracts were approved for Ryan Murphey as a school resource officer and Aron Welch as a planning and implementation coordinator.

The board also approved some general fund staffing additions.

Those additions include adding two full-time substitute teachers, additional technology and curriculum administrative time for COVID-19 plans, compensation for other staff involved in COVID-19 planning, additional health office coverage, additional paraprofessional supervision as needed, additional custodial services, an additional bus route to Bricelyn, Wells city shuttle runs and additional food delivery personnel.

The total dollars needed for those items came to a sum of $217,000.

In addition, the board also allowed for additional food service staffing at a cost of $37,000.

The School Board also:

Voted to add three flexible learning days to the 2020-21 school year.

Approved new Board Policy 8080, which addresses COVID-19 face covering.

Had the first reading of revised Board Policy 5220, which covers Title IX sex discrimination, grievance procedure and process and had the second reading of Board Policy 6250 regarding telemedicine.