The picture of what school will look like at Nevis School when students return for the first time since the shelter in place order in March is beginning to fill in.

At Thursday night’s special meeting, the board approved the in-person learning option for pre-K through grade 12 students. Superintendent Gregg Parks told the board that with a COVID-19 case rate in the county at 2.8 percent as of Aug. 27 at this point they feel very confident the in-person learning option will be what happens when school resumes in September.

According to the district’s “Return to Learn plan” on the Nevis School website, that means students will attend school following additional safety precautions, including face coverings as mandated by state officials.

Students will attend school with normal hours and classroom settings Monday through Thursday with distance learning on Fridays. Families will continue to have the option of full time distance learning for the academic school year.

The first day of school for students in grades 7-12 will be Sept. 8. An open house for students in grades K-6 will be held from noon to 7 p.m. on Sept. 8 and 9 by appointment only. Their first day of school will be Sept. 10. School will be held on Friday, Sept. 11 for all students K-12. All other Fridays have been designated as distance-learning days, regardless of the model of learning being used.

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Sept. 14-15 will be the start of school for pre-K students, who attend on a Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday schedule.

Parents will be responsible for reporting the presence of any symptoms in students or possible COVID-19 exposure. Quarantine requirements as outlined by the Minnesota Department of Health must be followed.

While many school activities have been modified or eliminated, other cherished traditions will continue. Homecoming will be a virtual event this year, held the week of Sept. 28 to Oct. 2. There will be a virtual coronation and pep fest.

Student board member Megan Lindow said many students have come to her expressing concerns about the new school year. When the student council met recently, it was suggested students receive the same emails parents get from the school, to inform, calm and reassure them. She said she has answered many student questions about the unknowns already.

“It feels like we have face masks and eye masks on,” she said.

One of the biggest changes for students this year will be the lack of social gatherings since there will be no assemblies, field trips or pep fests until further notice.

The school board discussed some additional changes students and parents will be seeing at its Aug. 24 regular meeting (subject to change as the COVID situation evolves) including:

  • Doors will open at 8:10 a.m., rather than 8 a.m. as in the past, so that students will not have unsupervised time before teachers open their classrooms. Students will go directly to their classrooms upon arrival and be released by their teachers in small groups for breakfast.

  • Staggered schedules will be used to maintain social distance in restrooms and other common areas.

  • The media center will be closed to group gatherings. Students and classrooms will receive periodic deliveries of books.

  • Individual pictures will be taken for the annual, but there will be no group or class pictures.

  • Visitors in the building will be limited to those who are essential to school functioning.

  • There will be no Reading Buddies program in the elementary school.

  • Parents picking up students in the elementary school need to call Linda Hanson (652-3500 ext. 118) and their student will be escorted to the door. The sign-in and -out sheet will not be used.

  • High school music classes will be held in the small gym with small groups of students spaced apart and all facing the same direction.

  • The fitness center will be used with coach supervision only and no longer open to student athletes after school.

  • Locker rooms will not be used, and physical education classes will be held outdoors, weather permitting, to allow for more social distancing.

  • The choir room will be used to quarantine any student who may have COVID-19 until they can be picked up by a parent. Partitions will be used to separate ill students. The school nurse will have a weekly Zoom meeting with public health officials to receive best practice updates.

  • If a student tests positive for COVID-19, parents of other students who have been in contact with the positive student will be notified.

  • Students who quarantine at home may continue distance learning as they are able.