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District awaits opening rules from state

NEW ULM — Planning continues for the start of school in District 88 this fall. The District 88 School board received a report Thursday on plans from Superintendent Jeff Bertrang.

Last month, Bertrang said three scenarios were being considered by all schools based on the status of COVID-19. The first option is to have back in-school, face-to-face instruction. Option two is a hybrid option with some face-to-face instruction and some doing distance learning. Option three is a return to the total distance learning option.

A month later, there has been no official decision from the state on whether to reopen.

Bertrang said in his report the cornerstones of District 88’s plan is to support families and students as the district transitions back into the buildings. Students who struggled during distance learning, those who need extra supports and those starting school in a new building will have a priority in the event the schools are limited to the numbers allowed in the building.

Gov. Tim Walz is expected to make an announcement Thursday, July 30 on whether schools will be open in fall.

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The School Board approved the Jefferson School Garden to be named the “Jefferson Outdoor Learning Space.” It was proposed that in addition to naming the garden a donated sign would be placed designating that the learning space was established by Beth (Norman) Sletta and the students of Jefferson School.

Jefferson Elementary STEM teacher Amber Schaefer said Jefferson staff came up with this proposal to honor Beth Sletta.

“Beth was the STEM teacher, 3rd Grade Teacher, Title teacher, Computer teacher; she did almost everything,” Schaefer said “and that was just in the time I’ve been at Jefferson.”

With Sletta’s recent retirement, the staff wanted to honor her by naming the garden after her. Sletta began the garden in 2017 after being approached by 3rd Grade students interested in starting a pollinator garden. This garden has now become the Outdoor Learning Space.

Sletta secured numerous grants to help expand the garden. After her retirement, Sletta volunteered to keep the garden running.

The board agreed the honor was well deserved and unanimously approved the new official name and donated sign.

The next regular school board meeting will be held on Thursday, August 27, 2020, at 6:00 p.m. in the District Boardroom and through teleconference or electronic means, 414 South Payne Street.

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