Going back to school after COVID-19

Sarah Bunich
St. James Plaindealer
St. James school district is starting to make plans for a safe return to school next year.

As of Thursday, July 1 Governor Tim Walz no longer has the state of emergency executive orders power after having it since the beginning of the pandemic, because the Minnesota legislators ended it during their session on Wednesday, June 30. 

Walz emergency power made schools go into distance learning at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. But with the emergency power ending this means schools will be going back to pre-pandemic operations.

Before planning for next school year starts, schools are looking at what they need to bring kids back to school in person and what losses students had this past school year. To help with that schools have received money from the American Rescue Plan’s Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. Superintendent Steve Heil said these funds can help will with the summer learning to help catch students up with what they missed this year because of COVID, and to bring in additional teachers into the schools to keep class sizes small.

Plans for this coming school year are being discussed by school boards and the public. St. James has started this process of planning on how to bring students back in person for school in the fall, they are taking what they had last year to help guide them on making this year’s plan.

“Just kind of updating from the much larger Coronavirus plan that was up on the web last year,” said Heil. “We went through the specific categories that the government wanted, and we put what we are currently doing in there from that plan as an overall community, for the advisory group have given us. It has all the information from what everybody said this is how we should procced as a community, so when we updated it we took all that information.”

Some of the process St. James schools were doing at the end of this school year will be carried over into next school year. Such as at least 2 feet distancing between students’ desks, hygiene like handwashing, and being in person, with the addition of optional wearing of masks.

With it still being early in the summer there is a lot that can change before the start of school whether it be at the state or community level saying what is required of schools. A better understanding of how school will work next year will come when its closer to the start of school.  Heil said right now they are concentrating on getting the summer learning in and helping students prepare for the up coming school year.