Northland schools ready to launch distance learning

Updated: March 26, 2020 08:06 PM

To slow the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Tim Walz launched the Stay at Home executive order which will have schools across the state switch to distance learning through May 4.


School staff have been hard at work getting that ready for students. Some schools will be kicking off the distance learning on Monday.

Northland schools like the Proctor School District say they're ready to launch the distance learning for their 1,830 students. They made a 10 day distance learning plan that covers different topics students were working on in class. The 10 day learning plan also covers two weeks of school work and will be updated with new material as the weeks go on.

"Learning plans are accessed online but we are also giving paper copies to our elementary students. With the plans there’s a mix of a technology piece whether its video from teachers recording themselves teaching different things or different resources online," said Sarah Klyve, the Proctor student success coordinator.

A combination of apps, videos, and learning management platforms are being used. Students have chrome-books and I-pads to access the assignments and work on based on their daily schedule.

"The infrastructure to pull this off has been here for years. Students have the devices we have the network and systems. We got this and I'm feeling confident about it. Educators have an important role to play. We are one Minnesota and we are going to get through this as a community and we're going to be stronger for it," said Joe Krasselt, the Proctor Middle School principal.

Many school districts are delivering learning materials to students to make sure everyone has access to the distance learning curriculum. They're also making sure students continue getting a meal during this transition.

"Our teachers have put a lot of time and energy into this, it's a true labor of love. This is a new thing for everyone in the district and it's overwhelming for everyone but teachers have done a great job of breaking it down to engage students in a new and exciting way they haven’t done before," said Klyve.

Proctor High School Principal Tim Rohweder said he is talking with area high school principals about events they had planned in May. As of now, they haven't canceled them and hope students will be able to come back to school in May. They know high school seniors are concerned about what will happen with graduation ceremonies and other events that were planned for them. 

"We are bouncing ideas off each other,  it wil be consistent with what area schools are doing. We will do something to honor seniors in this milestone moment," said Rohweder.

St. Louis County Schools Superintendent Reggie Engebritson oversees 2,500 students from two school districts on the range. She says teachers are working on making distance learning a fun and meaningful experience for students. They'll be using educational apps and videos to help with the learning experience.

"We don't want to overwhelm students and parents so we are looking at how much homework we are giving them and trying to understand essential standards we need to focus on during this time," said Engebritson. "We have students who don’t have access to internet and may need paper materials so we are planning to do drop offs."

Staff say they are focusing on keeping in touch with students and their families to guide them through this new experience through email, phone, and apps. Staff also say they'll continue providing childcare for essential workers and meals to students.

"We want parents and kids to know we care about them and are going through this together and are in it together," said Engebritson.

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