The North Branch School District couldn’t have picked a better year to put forward a new motto—Better Together.
The constant pressures to adapt to covid-19 impacts have a number of players coming to the district’s aid, who were always nearby but maybe not quite so much “together.”
The demand for up-to-date information and quick turnaround, has woven the county public health department into the fabric of school operations more tightly than ever. District families and staff have been called upon to dig deep and become part of the whole like never before.
The district cooperative spirit has meant that North Branch had just two confirmed cases the first part of March. This isn’t achieved in a vacuum, the superintendent told the School Board last week.
Supt. Sara Paul stated the creative approaches to making space, organizing classes, making activities possible, are not being taken for granted.
Paul said she wanted to especially acknowledge the Covid 19 Response Team, and “...lift up the work that’s been done.”
She had invited the “covid-19 response team” to be recognized by the Board, see photo.
Board Chair Tim MacMillan understood the team helped to keep the district on its toes when “...the ball was constanty moving. We wouldn’t be able to have students in-school without them,” he said.
Supt. Paul shared with the Board that North Branch being able to return students to in-school learning models is not being accomplished by alot of other districts. When kids return after spring break (March 15-19) they will be at a hybrid Level Two on the Five Level flexible learning continuum model used in the state; and this is a direct result of “...the shared value of learning that’s behind the work being done.”
Staff had no confirmed COVID-19 cases the first week of March the Board was advised. There were two cases among thousands of students. The partners are as important as the district.
Chisago County Public Health was commended for its dedication to being available, sharing most recent state and local virus data and keeping the district informed about vaccine availability. Supt. Paul reports there have been 350 county vaccination appointments offered to district staff and any employee who chose to get a shot has been able to.
She stated, “They (public health) have been incredibly responsive to inquiries,” and held regular meetings with response team members.
School Board member Heather Osagiede noted that “students are healthier for being able to be in school.” She said everybody is impressed by and congratulates the districtwide creativity and enthusiasm.
In other business, North Branch School Board members welcomed new appointee Jesse LaValla, sworn-in last week as he filled the vacancy from Kirby Ekstrom’s move from the district. All Board members were meeting at the middle school in-person, masked, with the exception of Kevin Bollman who was on-line.
~ Principal contract negotiations continue. The next negotiating session is scheduled for April 7.
~ Traditions are hopefully making a comeback. Prom is tentatively set for Friday June 11. The location— not announced— will incorporate indoor and outdoor spaces. Graduation is planned most likely for outdoors, and is scheduled for Sunday, June 13.