The Badger School Board approved going to in-person learning back at its August 10, 2020 regular board meeting. This set the district officially on its path to providing in-person learning to begin the 2020-21 school year on September 8— its first in-person learning since March 17, 2020.
The district took another step towards preparing itself for this upcoming school year after the board approved its Return to Learn Plan at an August 24, 2020 special meeting. This plan sets out what the district is not only going to do in its current in-person learning model, but what it will do if it has to transition to either a hybrid learning model (mix of in-person and distance learning models) or a distance learning model.
“I hope and pray we don’t get to this (complete distance learning) level,” Badger Superintendent-Principal Kevin Ricke said.
The district’s Return to Learn Plan became live on the district’s website early last week following the board’s approval. Ricke recognized several people and groups of people for their work related to this plan.
“I commend the teachers,” Ricke said. “The teachers have been working on different components of this. (I commend) office staff, (Dean of Students) Mr. (Stacey) Warne, (secretary) Sara Olson going through this.”
The Badger District is starting with an in-person model due to its lower COVID-19 case rate in Roseau County. To help districts determine the learning model used, the state provided recommended options based on the county’s 14-day case rate level per 10,000 people. To host in-person learning for all students, the state is recommending that schools fall in the 0 to less than 10 cases per 10,000 over 14 days by county of residence. As Ricke explained this number includes the number of active cases in the county.
According to numbers provided by the Minnesota Department of Health, Roseau County sat at 6.47 cases per 10,000 between August 2 and August 15, placing the Badger District in the in-person learning for all students category.
“Unless things would drastically changed before September 8, we’d be in-person for all grade levels and then each Thursday, we get the update to the county (case rate) data,” Ricke said. “And obviously, we still have to do some refining on hybrid models and distance learning models, but I commend the staff and local agencies that we work with (to) help us get into the point we’re at now.”
This plan addresses a variety of topics, including a couple of pages on mask wearing.
Prior to approving its Return to Learn Plan, the board approved the second reading and adoption of its face covering policy. Under this policy a face covering is defined as any of the following: paper or disposable mask, cloth mask, scarf, neck gaiter, bandana, religious face covering, and medical-grade masks and respirators.
As Ricke explained, students won’t have to wear masks 100 percent of the time. In the district’s Return to Learn Plan it states that masks can be removed during “meal times, or while outdoors when social distancing can be practiced.”
The district will provide two cloth masks to each student and staff member at the beginning of the year. More will be available and distributed during the school year as needed. Students and staff can supply their own face covering as long as it complies with school dress code policies and abides by current Minnesota Department of Health guidelines.
Board member Curt Hauger asked if the district will have to monitor what’s printed on these masks and asked if they can have any political messages. Ricke explained how if a mask impedes with the smooth transition of the school day, the student wearing that mask will be given a disposable one. Ricke said the district would have 3,000 disposable masks on day one of school.
Dean of Students Stacey Warne also addressed this mask issue that Hauger brought up. He mentioned how students have had shirts with the president on it and the district has never made them change shirts before due to these shirts showing the person’s own opinion and not being “distasteful.”
“If we get stuff that’s just tasteful, allowing or promoting alcohol, liquor, tobacco, other things, then we generally address it,” Warne said. “Our biggest dress code problem is… as the shorts get shorter and the tops gets shorter, that’s mostly what we address with dress code violations.”
Hauger replied, “You must be doing something right because I haven’t heard any rumblings about it.”
Warne responded, “Then you’re going to have to trust us going into this year too. I mean, we’re going to try to continue that standard that we have set, and then if there are problems with it, you’ll probably hear about it.”
Hauger then commented how if rules aren’t more black and white it opens them to new interpretation.
“We have black and white rules in our handbook, yet we have to make an interpretation to whether or not it violates the handbook,” Warne responded, “just like a law enforcement officer has to make the interpretation whether or not the law is violated.”
To see the complete story, read the September 2 issue of The Tribune in print or online. To access the Badger School District’s complete Return to Learn plan, visit the district’s website homepage and click on the “Badger School Return to Learn 2020-21 Plan” link under “Headlines & Features”.