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BEA will not require masks this year

School Board gets updates on back to school plans, events

By Chuck Hunt - Editor | Aug 8, 2021

Blue Earth Area technology and media director Jennifer Berkner (back to camera) monitors the video equipment as she livestreams the Blue Earth Area School Board meeting last Monday night on Facebook Live. Members of the public interested in monitoring the meeting may go to Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/ISD2860 (viewers do not need a Facebook account to view it, simply click on the link). Regular BEA School Board meetings are on the second Monday of the month, but was on the first Monday this month only.

The Blue Earth Area School Board heard some updates on plans for the coming school year during their meeting last Monday night, Aug. 2.

BEA Superintendent Mandy Fletcher said they are working hard to make the fall opening of school as normal as can be.

“We are going to encourage wearing masks, especially for those who choose to, but we are not going to require wearing masks,” Fletcher said. “We are also not going to mandate a certain number of feet for social distancing, but we are going to just keep some space between students.”

She also said they will inform families that students not feeling well need to stay home.

“We will also be practicing proper hygiene skills and good respiratory etiquette practices,” Fletcher said. Those include hand washing and sneezing techniques as recommended by the school nurse.

Fletcher added that all these plans were as of the current moment, and if they have to change, parents and families would be kept informed.

Fletcher also answered a question from a board member having to do with distance learning.

“We are not an online schooling provider,” Fletcher explained. “So we will not be doing distance learning. If certain students are kept home for some reason, or have to be quarantined, we do have the ability to live-stream the classroom.”

The first day of school for the high school is Sept. 7, and for the middle and elementary school it is Sept. 9. Fletcher also listed the back-to-school teacher workshop days which include ones for new teachers on Aug. 25-27, and for all teachers Aug. 30-Sept. 2.

Fletcher also gave an update on all the summer projects which had been done under the supervision of Al Gieser, buildings and grounds supervisor.

Those included reroofing the Commons Area roof at the high school, replacing carpet in areas of the high school, concrete sidewalk replacement at the middle school and metal frames and doors at the elementary school, among others.

During his report, high school principal Conan Shaffer reported on back-to-school meetings which include one for athletes on Aug. 12 and a new ‘Bucs Bash’ event on Sept. 1, for students in grades 8-12 and their parents. It will include activities, food and some fun events, including a couple of dunk tanks.

Shaffer also reported that 25 students participated in the credit recovery program during the summer, with 15 recovering some credits. In the middle school, 10 students attended summer school.

Before the regular meeting the School Board held a work session where they did the evaluation of the superintendent.

During the regular meeting board chair Susie Rosenau reported the board had given Fletcher a rating of four (out of four) in each of three areas.

Also during the work session the board worked on goals for the superintendent and goals for the board for the 2021-2022 school year.

Between the work session and the regular meeting the board went into closed session to discuss negotiations strategy.

Other actions which took place at the regular meeting included:

• A report from the BEA Basketball Association about putting four new basketball courts where the old tennis courts had been located outside the elementary school.

• Approved the annual bids for softener salt, waste removal, snow removal and fuel oil.

• Approved revised student handbooks for the elementary, middle, and high schools.

• Accepted the retirement of K-5 social worker Kim Slette and the resignation of Maleah Pedersen.

While this regular August meeting was on the first Monday of the month, the board will go back to its regular second Monday of the month date for September and forward.