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HLWW Board addresses distance learning, future of referendum
March 27, 2020

Nancy Dashwood
Staff Writer

HOWARD LAKE, WAVERLY, WINSTED, MN – Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted School District Superintendent Brad Sellner updated the school board about distance learning plans at its meeting March 23.

“Uncharted territory”

Sellner said that although providing distance learning through a pandemic was “uncharted territory,” district staff were working “diligently to get things put together.”

Sellner said teachers are still reporting to work, but they have a modified schedule. Teachers now spend 7:30 to 9 a.m. doing preparation work; are open and available for students from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and have collaboration time from 2 to 3:30 p.m.

Most teachers are using Google Classroom and Schoology learning management systems to present their lessons.

Sellner said district staff had already checked families’ computer software, hardware, and internet needs.

Students in fifth to eighth grades all should have devices to use at home, or have been assigned an HLWW chromebook. (Students in lower grades will have learning and homework choices provided that are offline.)

Sellner said the district handed out approximately 50 to 60 chromebooks to students in fifth to eighth grade for distance learning purposes. Additional devices are available.

Sellner also said district staff reported 10 high school students, nine middle school students, and approximately 20 elementary students did not have home internet access. Those students will have paper packets of lessons provided for pick up.

Sellner said most of the time, teachers will engage with students daily. Attendance will be kept via those contacts, and from homework turned in.

Sellner said he was waiting for the Department of Human Services (DHS) to provide guidelines for how to determine truancy in the distance learning environment.

In the interim, Sellner said that if a teacher has not heard from a student for three days, a school counselor would attempt to reach the parents. If no contact is made for two additional days, the principal would attempt to make contact. If no contact was made by the principal after several more days, the matter would be turned over to the DHS.

Sellner said that district bus drivers and paraeducators will be delivering meals to students who ordered them. Meal pick up at the high school is also available.

There have been requests made for 21 meals, but Sellner anticipated that number would rise over time. The district is approved to provide meals for people from age 1 to 18.

Sellner stressed that specific information detailing distance learning, meals, and school-age care went out to all district families this week.

“I wish I knew more right now,” he said. “I feel we’ve got the best plan in place for now. One day at a time.”

Feeding Holy Trinity

Sellner said Holy Trinity (HT) Winsted’s Superintendent Bonita Jungles sent a letter requesting that HLWW provide breakfasts and lunches for HT staff and students beginning in the 2020-21 school year.

HLWW Food Service Director Michelle Johnson said Holy Trinity has approximately 100 people eating school meals.

She told the board there was sufficient equipment in place at Holy Trinity. Staffing and meal pricing is still being finalized.

Sellner said HLWW would be able to provide meals to Holy Trinity and make a slight profit.

“It should be a win-win situation,” Johnson said.

Reviewing referendum consultants

Sellner asked board members about their thoughts regarding referendum consultants’ presentations which took place at a meeting last month.

At that time, the board heard from Rapp Strategies and Dehler PR.

Board Member Dwayne Diers said he had received several calls from people who did not think a consultant was necessary.

Board members agreed they preferred Dehler PR’s presentation, but wanted more specifics about what the firm could do for the district before proceeding.

They also wanted to know details regarding district costs during the failed referendum bid last November.

Sellner agreed to follow up with Dehler PR, and to bring the requested information to the next board meeting.

Odds and ends

In other business, the board:

• authorized Sellner to use his discretion to determine when conditions warrant using telecommunications or other virtual means so the board may continue to carry out the business of the school district.

• reviewed the upcoming meeting schedule, which includes a regular board meeting Monday, April 13 at 6 p.m., and a board work session meeting Monday, April 27 at 6 p.m.

• closed the public meeting to conduct a performance review.

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