The next meeting of the Ogilvie School Board is 6 p.m. Dec. 6, 2021, in the Ogilvie Schools Board Room. Meetings are also recorded and posted to the school’s YouTube channel: Ogilvie Public Schools - School Board.

Parents express rising COVID concerns

“We’re doing the best we can,” said Ogilvie Schools Superintendent Kathy Belsheim while discussing the challenges of student health and COVID-19 with the Ogilvie School Board on Nov. 22. 

Both of Ogilvie’s two kindergarten classes were quarantined last week due to exposures; the students were expected to return to school Nov. 29. Board member Casey Heins questioned if the kindergartners would still have had to quarantine had they been wearing masks. Belsheim said she felt that they should; not all schools do require that. 

Board member Reno Gunderson reminded the board that Kanabec County Community Health is recommending the wearing of face masks for students, a recommendation she supports. 

Belsheim noted that staff absences have been difficult to manage and thoroughly thanked the staff for their perseverance. 

“It is because of the great people that we have here in our school system that we are able to, basically, survive the pandemic. We have people that are coming together. They are covering classes. They are combining classes. They are teaching in classes that they normally would not be teaching in if it is necessary,” she said. 

Two letters were read to the Ogilvie School Board from parents expressing concerns about increasing spread of COVID-19. One complained of a lack of enforcement of mask wearing on buses, communication difficulties with school staff; one writer asked the school district to take action by implementing stronger response such as mask mandates or the addition of hybrid learning options.

Kanabec County Community Health is hosting vaccination clinics at Ogilvie Schools for persons ages five and up. So far, 11 families have signed up to participate. 

In Ogilvie schools, if an Ogilvie student or staff member is vaccinated and exposed to COVID-19, they do not need to quarantine unless they have symptoms. 

Four-day week decisions left to the next board

The Ogilvie School Board has decided to begin the application process to continue operating a 4-day school week structure, while leaving the actual decision of whether or not to pursue it to the new board come January. 

Two new Ogilvie school board members will be joining the board in January, while two current members will be leaving. 

Every year the Ogilvie School board must decide if they would like to continue the school’s 4-day week structure or transition to the more standard 5-day structure. In order to stay operating in a 4-day structure, the school must submit a thorough and lengthy application to the Minnesota Department of Education. 

The extensive application is due April 1, but paperwork would need to start soon if the application is to be complete. 

The sitting board voted to begin preparing the application, but will leave discussion and decisions about whether or not to finalize the application to the new board members who take their seats in January.

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