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School meals, apps are a go in Wrenshall


March 27, 2020

In Wrenshall, superintendent Kim Belcastro updated the school board this week on where the district was since the closure order March 15.

“I will admit it did feel like the last week of school for the students,” Belcastro wrote in her memo about the final day of school March 17. She said teachers prepped for distance learning last Wednesday through Friday. The district is on spring break this week, allowing for a bit of a breather for staff, she said.

“Once the teachers had the assurance that they were going to be able to work from home (it) seemed to relieve some of the extreme anxiety.”

Information on the new way of teaching can be found on the district website under a link called “Distance Learning.” The site also includes any changes or updates to the pandemic response.

Because of spotty internet service for students and teachers in the district, Belcastro is working with technology experts to develop “hotspots” where people can find adequate internet bandwidth.

Belcastro said the buildings and grounds crew is working during the break to clean and disinfect the school building.

Distance learning, child care and food delivery will begin on Monday.

The Wrenshall district will have three food distribution sites available Monday through Friday each week. The sites are as follows:

• School playground entry: 8:30-9:30 a.m.

• Holyoke Town Hall: 8:30-

9 a.m.

• Nickerson Bar Parking Lot: 8:30-9 a.m.

There will be a bag breakfast and lunch for students who sign up. Any student who lives in the school district qualifies for meals. They do not have to be currently receiving free and reduced lunch. Students who live outside the district should go to the district in which they live for the meals. Belcastro said bus drivers and van drivers will be a part of the delivery.

Child care will be available from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The care is free during the regular school day and $3.25 per hour per child after that. Wrens Club staff, working through Community Education and school paraprofessionals, will provide care.

“I am not sure how many students will need the service yet,” Belcastro said. “The district is required to provide for emergency workers, health care providers and teachers.” She said there is a long list of other positions that will qualify for the service. Children using the daycare must reside in the district or attend school in Wrenshall. Belcastro said about a dozen children were cared for at the end of last week after the school closed.

Mental health services will remain in place throughout the distance learning period, Belcastro said, through tele-networking platforms, emailing and phone calls.

The Pine Knot News reached out to other school district officials about preparations for distance learning but did not hear back from them. Some schools were on spring break this week.

Consolidation bill holding

Belcastro is continuing to coordinate with Carlton superintendent Gwen Carman on the district consolidation process. The state legislature is virtually shut down, meaning a bill wending its way through hearings at the capitol will likely be delayed. It would provide money the district needs to shore up its buildings in preparation for a consolidation. The bill is crucial to the districts’ decision on holding a bond referendum in August to basically put the consolidation into motion. If things are delayed, that vote could come in the general election in November.

Belcastro said she and Carman would check in with local legislators Rep. Mike Sundin and Sen. Jason Rarick, and the lobbyist the districts hired, to find out where the bill is at.

The first deadline for committee work passed last week, and usually lawmakers would be in a flurry of activity passing bills by now. But legislators won’t be meeting in person at the capitol, save for special sessions dealing with COVID-19 response, until at least April 14.


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