Cedar Mountain responds to Covid-19

By Johanna Jutz

The March Cedar Mountain School Board meeting was called to order on March 16. 

The main discussion of the evening was the district’s response to the closure of all Minnesota schools due to Covid‐19. 

Superintendent Brandl discussed what Cedar Mountain's plan is moving forward. They chose to close the Monday and Tuesday before the mandated window to avoid large numbers of students being in one area. Students were allowed to come in on those days to pick up any needed supplies if they liked. 

A staff meeting was held on March 16. Brandl said he walked out of the meeting proud of all the work that was done in such a short amount of time by the board, administrators, teachers, and staff. 

He emphasized that the reason for the shutdown, in addition to health concerns, was to give schools the opportunity to prepare for distance learning in the event they need to be closed for an extended period of time. As of March 20, the Distance Learning Plan is complete and will be shared with families soon. 

The district realizes that the distance learning is going to be a day to day effort and direct communication with families is going to be essential to overcome barriers.

They will also continue to provide meals to students. Starting Wednesday, March 18 the district offered a "Grab and Go" meal service free of charge. The meals will include a lunch and a breakfast for the following day, and can be picked up at either site between 11:00 am and 12:00 pm. This is not just for Cedar Mountain students. Anyone under the age of 18 in the area can get a meal regardless of where they attend school. Delivery of meals will also be provided for those unable to pick up meals. Families are asked to contact the high school office by Friday, March 27 to be added to the delivery list.

Childcare will continue be available for all qualified individuals and Cedar Mountain staff. Transportation will also be provided if needed. 

Guidelines about the novel coronavirus response are likely to be constantly changing as more information becomes available. Families should regularly check the school's website and Facebook page for any changes. 

The Board also discussed ways to regularly connect with students, particularly seniors and their families, and alternative ways to recreate significant events they will be missing due to Covid-19 cancellations. Checking in on the mental health of both staff and students during this time was also mentioned and will be essential. 

Under administrative reports there were a few highlights. The Arts and Academic Awards Program was held on March 12, which is an annual event at the elementary school where students can showcase their talents that they might not get to otherwise display. A total of 55 students with a variety of talents participated. 

During the AAA Program, a cup stacking challenge was also held between three students, who were the top speed stackers of a tournament between grades three through five. 

In Middle/High School news, National FFA Week was celebrated February 24-28. Students participated in activities like dress up days, trivia, Ag Olympics, and the annual community breakfast. They also fundraised and donated the proceeds to the local fire department to purchase grain entrapment equipment. 

The Board discussed 2020-2021 planning. Brandl first talked about changes to staffing, including some reductions and shifting of sections teachers instruct to account for smaller class sizes. 

He also updated the board on some facilities projects that will be completed this summer. The district is looking to replace the current mower, which has a snow brush attachment. 

Moving on, the following resignations were accepted: DaNel Schneider as a paraprofessional, Tiffany Minkel as daycare staff, and Tanya Miller as kitchen staff. 

The following hires were also approved: Rhonda Lyon as daycare staff, Lisa Nez as the American Indian Education Liaison, and Kylie Lessman as the agriculture teacher. 

The next meeting is planned for April 20 in Franklin at 7:00 pm. 


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