The Isle School Board met for their regular meeting on Monday, July 20.

One topic of discussion and on everyone in the room’s minds was what is going to happen in the fall with regard to opening the schools in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Isle School Superintendent Dean Kapsner presented a survey of parents/guardians in the form of a slideshow that the school had recently conducted. He said that the administration is currently preparing for the three fall scenarios given to them by the Minnesota Department of Education and the Minnesota Department of Health as they wait on Gov. Tim Walz’s decision on what school will look like in the fall.

“We took a survey of our stakeholders and sent 270 emails to families and caregivers and got 124 responses back,” said Kapsner. “The response was a pretty good representation. We aggregated some of that data here in the slideshow.”

Highlights from the survey include:

• 91% of families responding said they would continue enrollment in Isle. 8.9% said “it depends.” None of the respondents said “no,” they wouldn’t enroll in Isle.

• When asked how families would rate the distance learning experience last spring, 27.5% said “good,” 40.8% said “fair” and 28.3% said “poor.” Very few rated the experience as “excellent.”

• If given a choice for the 2020-’21 school year, 87.9% said they preferred in-person, and 12.1% said they would prefer distance learning.

• When asked if distance learning is required, 42.7% said a combination of online and hardcopy works best, 21.8% said it depends on the child, 19.4% said hardcopy works best, and 16.1% said online delivery works best.

• 72.6% of those who responded said that they would not need daycare if students don’t go back to school in-person, and 27.4% said they would need daycare.

• 79% said they have reliable internet at home and 21% said they did not.

• The major challenges to distance learning were as follows: 38 respondents said, “flawed curriculum & instruction delivery”; 30 respondents said, “working parents/hard to provide help at home”; 19 respondents said, “social/emotional concerns”; 14 respondents said, “motivation/engagement of student(s); and 9 respondents said, “technology/connectivity issues.”

Kapsner said that no matter what the school year looks like, they will be offering an online option for students. “We will accommodate everyone who wants to be enrolled at school here,” he added.

Kapsner stated, “It’s going to be tough to hit the target for every student and every learning style if we are locked into one option. Some districts are talking about two groups that attend in-person and different days with a break on Wednesdays to clean. Other districts talk about using all the space to get the K-5 students here every day. There are lots of different models, but what governs is space and enrollments; then you have to half that. But there is a possibility to have most of the kids here every day because of the capacity.”

He added that the “majority of work” is still ahead of them.

An Aug. 3 special board meeting is planned to review plans for the fall once the Governor’s decision has been announced.

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