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echo press | Friday, August 27, 2021

echopress.com

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Alex schools will start year with in-person learning, online options being looked RICK

SANSTED

ARE YOU READY FOR A NEW

SCHOOL YEAR? A

By Celeste Edenloff Alexandria Echo Press

new school year is fast-approaching and with COVID-19 still present, area school administrators answer questions about what parents need to know, as well as other items related to the upcoming school year. School administrators from public and private schools within the Douglas County area were contacted, but not all responded. Within this special Back-to-School section,

read what is happening in the Alexandria, Brandon-Evansville and Osakis school districts, as well as at St. Mary’s and St. Agnes schools. Learn some fun facts about the Alexandria School District and find out who the new teachers and staff members are in Alexandria, Brandon-Evansville and Osakis. Also included are school bus safety tips and a list of school contacts.

Superindent of Alexandria

Q: What do parents need to know about sending their children

back to school as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic? A: As of this writing, the Alexandria Public School District is anticipating starting the 2021-22 school year with in-person learning, five days a week.

We are continuing to watch our local data and will implement tiered mitigation measures as needed to help keep kids in school. Q: Who makes the final decisions on in-person or distance learning? If it is the state,

what would happen if a school district went against what they are instructed to do? Can a school district do whatever it wants to do? A: Last year, districts were required to have ALEXANDRIA: PG2

Brandon-Evansville superintendent says support is key DON

PESCHE

Superindent of Brandon Evansvill

Q: What do parents need to know about sending their children

back to school as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic? A: Brandon-Evansville School District always has our kids’ best interest in mind. That being said, we believe our parents have the right to decide if their

child(ren) should be masked or not, and our staff will have that same option. The only exception is on public transportation where it is required by federal law. Q: Will distance learning be offered even if

school is in-person? A: Distance Learning was very difficult for everyone including parents, teachers, kids and administrators. I feel my staff did the best job they could. We won’t distance learn B-E: PG3

Osakis superintendent believes in face-to-face learning RANDY

BERGQUIST Superindent of Osakis

Q: What do parents need to know about sending their children

back to school as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic? A: In Osakis, we will not be mandating masks and will not be mandating vaccinations. If parents want their child to wear a mask, they can surely do that.

If parents don’t want their child to wear a mask, they don’t have to. There will be no mask shaming on either side of this belief system. Q: Who makes the final decisions on in-person or distance learn-

ing? If it is the state, what would happen if a school district went against what they are instructed to do? Can a school district do whatever it wants to do? A: The final decision is OSAKIS: PG3

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B8 |

Friday, August 27, 2021 | echo press

echopress.com

ALEXANDRIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS FUN FACTS

ALEXANDRIA FROM PAGE 1

• 3,000 – students on daily bus routes • 37.5 – regular bus transportation routes • 350 – square miles define the school district boundaries • 9 – school serving more than 4,000 students from preschool through 12th grade • 850,000 – square feet of floor space, along with more than 403 acres of property excluding leased space that the buildings and grounds department oversees • 35 – students qualified for the International DECA competition • 9, 8, 7 – Nine teams earned section gold academic honors, there were eight conference championships and there were 7 section championships during the 2020-21 school year • 125 – students advanced to state competitions in 2020-21 • $240,000 – in scholarships awarded to the Class of 2021 • 157 – seniors from the Class of 2021 received recognition at Honors Night in the form of a scholarship, military presentation or an award • 93.54% – graduation rate at Alexandria Area High School

Be engaged in educational process, says St. Mary’s principal TROY

SLADEK

Superindent of St. Mary’s

Q:What do parents need to know about sending their children back-toschool as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic? A: Schools are starting this fall with the guidance, protocols and best practices based on what is currently happening in our community. Parents will need to be understanding, committed and flexible to adjust if things change and there is a large-scale outbreak of COVID in a school or our

community. Q: Will distance learning be offered even if school is in-person? A: No, however, St. Mary’s School will provide distance learning to students who need to be at home due to isolation or quarantine protocols. Q: What’s the best way for parents/grandparents/legal guardians to stay upto-date with information as it relates to their child(ren) and the school they are attending? A: Attend the open house; communicate and collaborate with classroom teachers; consistently ask child questions about their school day; monitor student work; read class-

room teacher newsletters; attend conferences; read principal newsletter; and volunteer in school. Q: What efforts are in place to help the spread of COVID-19 within your school? A: Parents will work with our school to screen students for signs and symptoms of illness. St. Mary’s School will report all known cases of COVID-19 to the Minnesota Department of Health. St. Mary’s School will inform parents when their students are in close contact to known infected persons and will utilize appropriate quarantine measures. Cleaning and disinfecting practices will remain a high pri-

ority. Hand sanitizer will be available and frequent handwashing will be encouraged. Q: What can parents do to help make the school year a success for their child(ren)? A: Make it a priority to be actively engaged in the educational process by collaborating and supporting classroom teachers, consistently monitor student work and celebrate student success. In regard to COVID and all illnesses, remain committed to daily monitoring of student health, keep kids home when they are ill and seek testing or appropriate medical care before returning to school.

Smart tips for school bus safety

A

Do your children ride the bus to school? Before it’s time to head back to class, take a few minutes to remind them of the following safety guidelines: Head to the bus stop early, without running, and wait calmly, away from the road and traffic. Don’t approach the bus until it has come to a complete stop. Use the handrail to get on the bus. Do not shove other students. Sit down quickly. Place your backpack at your feet, under the

seat, or on your knees. Throughout the ride, stay calm: don’t get up, don’t yell and don’t bother the driver. Before leaving your seat, make sure the bus has come to a complete stop. Get off in a single file, while holding on to the rail and without pushing others. Take two big steps once you’re off the bus to move away from the danger zone. If you drop something, do not pick it up. Let the driver know or ask an adult for help. If you need to cross

the road, take ten big steps forward so that the driver can see you. Make eye contact with the driver and wait for their signal. Look left, right and left again before crossing

quickly, but don’t run. Go straight home, without any detours or delays. School transportation safety is everyone’s business: it’s up to you too!

plans in place for three different learning models, which created many challenges for teachers, students and families. The board approved a resolution at the August board meeting that permits the superintendent in partnership with the board chair to increase or decrease mitigation measures based on local data. Q: Will distance learning be offered even if school is in-person? A: Distance learning was a term that was introduced last year in relation to the pandemic. We have received preliminary approval as an online learning provider. We are continuing to investigate options for families that may need an online option. Q: What’s the best way for parents/grandparents/legal guardians to stay up-to-date with information as it relates to their child(ren) and the school they are attending? A: The district will continue to keep parents informed through regular email communication, as well as school-to-home communication from their child’s building principal and/or classroom teacher. Q: What efforts are in place to help the spread of COVID-19 within the district? A: We have a number of mitigation strategies to help ensure buildings remain safe places to learn and work. Our mitigation guide is based on low, moderate, substantial and high tiers. We will monitor COVID-19 in our schools and/or community and will adjust our mitigation strategies in response to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Q: School lunches will once again be paid for, by federal funds, correct? Why is it still so important for families

to fill out the forms for free and/or reduced lunch prices? Why does it matter and what does it mean for a school district? A: Although meals are free for all students for the 2021-22 school year, students and the school district benefit greatly when families apply and are approved for educational benefits. Benefits for students and families include: • Discount on school sports/activities • Discounted rates on community education activities • Possible discounts on Internet services and devices through the Federal Communications Commission • Possible extended Pandemic EBT benefits • Carryover of free/ reduced meal benefit for 30 school days for 2022-23 school year Benefits to Alexandria Public Schools: • In a typical year, Alexandria Public Schools receives approximately $1 million dollars in federal and compensatory funding that is based on the percentage of families approved for free or reduced meals. Those dollars allow our district to hire staff to support students across the district in targeted areas including reading, math support and mental health. Q: What can parents do to help make the school year a success for their child(ren)? A: We are so excited to have students back in school. To help make the school year a success for our children, build relationships with your child’s teacher, stay informed through site and district communication and reach out to teachers or administrators if parents have individual questions or concerns.

St. Agnes to open in-person, asks parents to be flexible, understanding Q:What do parents need to know about sending their children back-toschool as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic? A: With the guidance of the St. Cloud Dioceses, Horizon Public Health and Minnesota Department of Health, we will be opening with in-person learning. We all need to understand that if the situation changes, we need to be flexible and under-

standing. Q: Will distance learning be offered even if school is in-person? A: No, however, we will provide distance learning to students that need to quarantine. Q: What’s the best way for parents/grandparents/legal guardians to stay up-to-date with information as it relates to their child(ren) and the school they are attend-

ing? A: Read the newsletters from their child’s teacher and the weekly school update. Communicate with their child’s teacher. Attend conferences and other events by the school. Volunteer at school. Q: What efforts are in place to help the spread of COVID-19 within your school? A: Parents will screen

their child/ren for symptoms before sending them to school. Staff will monitor students for symptoms. We will work with Horizon Public Health for guidance on if a child should not come to school or be sent home. Proper handwashing will be taught. We will continue cleaning and sanitizing areas that are used frequently. Q: What can parents do

to help make the school year a success for their child(ren)? A: Be active at St. Agnes. There are lots of opportunities to volunteer or

“Good Neighbors, You’ve Come to Trust”

visit. Talk with your child about their day at school. Let your child/ren know that you notice their qualities of greatness showing.

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echo press | Friday, August 27, 2021

echopress.com

| B9

NEW STAFF

AREA SCHOOL CONTACTS PARKERS PRAIRIE SCHOOL DISTRICT 547

ALEXANDRIA SCHOOL DISTRICT 206

Website: www.isd547.com 411 South Otter Ave., P.O. Box 46, Parkers Prairie, MN 56361 218-338-6011 46, 518 South McCornell Ave., P.O.Box Parkers Prairie, MN 56361 Superintendent: Dean Yocum

Website: www.alexschools.org 8 P.O. Box 308, Alexandria, MN 5630 320-762-2141 Superintendent: Rick Sansted rson, Ande School board: Angie Krebs, Dave y Susag, Pam Carlson, Dean Anderson, Sand Alan Zeithamer and Jeff Patience

OOL BRANDON-EVANSVILLE SCH 8 290 CT TRI DIS Website: www.b-e.k12.mn.us 206 West 3rd Street, P.O. Box 185, Brandon, MN 56315 320-524-2263 or 320-834-4084 123 2nd Ave., P.O. Box 40, Evansville, MN 56326 218-948-2241 or 320- 834-4084 Superintendent: Don Peschel School board: Diane Richter, Jana Anderson, Rachel Wagner, , Randy Bettermann, Kent Huisman Andy Siira and Trent Froemming

Website: ol.org www.newtestamentchristianscho 2505 Hwy. 29 North, Alexandria, MN 56308 320-763-4050 Sprouls Principal/Administrator: Gidget

ST. MARY’S CATHOLIC SCHOOL

rg Website: www.smsa.stclouddiocese.o 421 Hawthorne, Alexandria, MN 56308 320-763-5861 Principal: Troy Sladek

Website: www.osakis.k12.mn.us 500 East 1st Avenue, P.O. Box X, Osakis, MN 56360 320-859-2191 Superintendent: Randy Bergquist School board: Becky Hensley, Mike Collins, Genny LeBrun, Justin Dahlheimer, Greg Faber and Amy Weisser.

ZION LUTHERAN SCHOOL

L

WEST CENTRAL AREA SCHOO DISTRICT 2342

Website: www.isd2342.org 56311 301 County Road 2, Barrett, MN 320-528-7300 Superintendent: Dale Hogie h WCA South Elementary: 31 Nort 3 Central Ave., Kensington, MN 5634t S.E., Stree WCA North Elementary: 411 1st 1 Elbow Lake, MN 5653 Rd. 2, WCA Secondary School: 301 Co. Barrett, MN 56311

B-E

unless we are required to. I hope it stays in local control. We can distance ourselves and our class sizes are smaller. One size doesn’t fit all. Brandon-Evansville won’t offer it unless we are required to go to distance learning. Q: What’s the best way for parents/grandparents/legal guardians to stay up-to-date with information as it relates to their child(ren) and the school they are attending? A: Families can stay updated by watching our website and I will be doing videos and/or email messages of any changes. Q: What efforts are in OSAKIS FROM PAGE 1

always the school board on any action items. However, the superintendent is key in this process. At this time, Minnesota is leaving it up to each individual school district to make a decision. (The CDC and the state are recommending masks but not requiring them). If a school district decides to go against the state MANDATE, there could be financial implications and/or loss of superintendent license, and/or other disciplinary measures. Q: Will distance learning be offered even if school is in-person? A: No. I believe in faceto-face teaching and learning. Q: What’s the best way for parents/grandparents/legal guardians to stay up-to-date with

Website: www.kalonprep.org 1877 Aga Drive, Suite 220, Alexandria, MN 56308 320-760-9519 Director: Chris Kragenbring

NEW TESTAMENT CHRISTIAN SCHOOL

OSAKIS SCHOOL DISTRICT 213

FROM PAGE 1

KALON PREP ACADEMY

Website: www.zionalex.org 300 Lake St., Alexandria, MN 56308 320-763-4842 Principal: Scott Kloetzke, Interim

ST. AGNES CATHOLIC SCHOOL

Website: www.stagnesosakis.com 307 4th Ave. W., P.O. Box 0, Osakis, MN 56360 320-859-2130 Principal: Pat Pospisil

place to help the spread of COVID-19 within the district? A: We will continue making extra efforts to clean and make sure our buildings are sanitized. We have hired extra staff so our class sizes are relatively small. It will be a team effort to ensure the safety of our staff and students. Q: School lunches will once again be paid for, by federal funds, correct? Why is it still so important for families to fill out the forms for free and/or reduced lunch prices? Why does it matter and what does it mean for a school district? A: This is extremely important for all families to fill out the forms. Free

and reduced lunches is not the only funding mechanism that affects this. Our compensatory dollars, which affect our general fund, are generated from these documents. This is a big deal! Brandon-Evansville needs all families to fill these out even though this year’s breakfast programs and lunch programs will be free. Q: What can parents do to help make the school year a success for their child(ren)? A: One word comes to mind – SUPPORT! We will do the best we can under the circumstances. Support and flexibility is key. I’m confident we can get through this and be better for it.

information as it relates to their child(ren) and the school they are attending? A: Talk to their teacher, sign up for email alerts or visit with their child’s principal. Q: What efforts are in place to help the spread of COVID-19 within the district? A: PPE equipment like hand sanitizing stations in all classrooms, social distancing, students spread apart in certain situations and educating about hygiene and washing hands. Q: School lunches will once again be paid for, by federal funds, correct? Why is it still so important for families to fill out the forms for free and/or reduced lunch prices? Why does it matter and what does it mean for a school district? A: Yes, school lunch-

es will be paid for this year. It is important for families to fill out these forms because the percentage of free/reduced price lunches gets reported to the state. The amount of compensatory revenue for our school district will be based on the percentage of free/ reduced price lunches. Unfortunately, Osakis will lose approximately $111,000 in compensatory revenue from 2020 to 2021. Q: What can parents do to help make the school year a success for their child(ren)? A: Read to and/or with their child, don’t make excuses for their child, hold them accountable, encourage them to do their best, encourage them to either work or become involved in extracurricular activities and also have them help out at home.

in Alexandria, B-E, Osakis ALEXANDRIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Alexandria Area High School Alec Stark – Science teacher Tyler Van Hove – Physical education/health teacher Amanda Hemann – Special Education teacher Gina Holdvogt – Math teacher Krissi Super – English teacher Kelly Hilbrands – Social Studies teacher Clay Jackson – English teacher Rebecca Panuska – Physical education/health teacher Jase Meyer – EMTNR Academy Counselor Jill Nelson – Cook Transition Center Lance Demuth – Paraprofessional Discovery Middle School Melissa Wilson – English teacher, eighth grade Cari Larson – Special Education teacher Kelli Howell – Special Education teacher McKenzie Revering – English teacher, eighth grade Sara Stoneberg – Science teacher, seventh grade Sarah Robinson – English teacher, seventh grade Jason Hoff – Science teacher, eighth grade Aleicia Claassen – Special Education teacher Michelle Robertus – Band Instructor Krista Justice – Paraprofessional Lincoln Elementary School Courtney Richardson – Teacher, first grade Gabriele Beniak – Special Education teacher Jessica Schmidt – Special Education teacher Amy Pedersen – Paraprofessional Christie Nohre – Paraprofessional Paula Dufeu – Paraprofessional Sharla Hoffman – Sign Language Interpreter Voyager Elementary School Alicia Blackstad – Teacher, second grade Nicole Waltzing – Paraprofessional Faith Juntunen – Paraprofessional Kaitlyn Schnoor – Paraprofessional Kristi Furrer – Paraprofessional Margaret Halvorson – Paraprofessional Deborah Bye – Paraprofessional Melinda Kolle – Custodian Wendy Fletcher – Cook Woodland Elementary School Christa Johnson – Teacher, fifth grade Lori Ibberson – Paraprofessional Rhonda Prokosch – Paraprofessional Early Education Center Madison Ford – Paraprofessional Renae Smith – Paraprofessional Breeahna Ninneman – Paraprofessional

Garfield Elementary School Breann Krogh – Teacher, first grade Carly Larson – Teacher, third grade Carlos Elementary School Beth Cutler – Paraprofessional Transportation Department Barbara Loomis – Bus Driver Student Support Services Rachel Peterson – Speech Language Pathologist Adult Basic Education Cindy Baczkowski – Secretary Michelle Schultz – Teacher Rebecca Gilbertson – Teacher Community Education Ramey Rudolph – School Age Childcare coordinator Kathryn Freeman – Gymnastics coordinator District Office Jessie Hjelle – Director of Human Resources Note: This list is reflective of new hires approved by the School Board as of August 16.

BRANDON-EVANSVILLE SCHOOL DISTRICT

Tom Gasser – Business teacher, grades six-12 Leigha Janssen – Teacher, kindergarten Amanda Johnson – Resource teacher, math and reading Cassandra Johnson – Administrative secretary Mitch Koebnick – Science teacher, middle school Isaac Schreiner – Social studies teacher, high school Kasi Sieling – Technology Integrationist, both campuses Stephanie Tetrick – Teacher, kindergarten Brenda Willhite – Cook, Evansville campus

OSAKIS SCHOOL DISTRICT

Breann Adolphsen – Teacher, fifth grade Lee Bottelberghe – Band teacher, grades four-12 Katelyn Childers – Special Education teacher, grades seven-12 Hannah Eberle – Special Education teacher, PreK-12 Courtney Gerads – Teacher, first grade Kayla Gregor – Art teacher, K-12 Lindsey Hinnenkamp – Mental health practitioner, K-12 Hanna Lundeen – Mental health practitioner/ADSIS Jessica Proell – Teacher, sixth grade Kaylie Waldvogel – Special Education teacher, K-12

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