A Team Staff News

January 7, 2021

Message from the Superintendent

Happy New Year! I hope you found time to recharge over the holiday break - whether it was a staycation or you had a chance to get away. It feels good to enter into 2021 with renewed energy, hope and optimism!

This is a special issue of the A Team Staff Newsletter to update you on key items from the board organizational meeting held Monday evening, relay important information from our Business Services & Technology departments, along with revisiting our phased plan for the return of students.

Upcoming Events

  • January 11: PreK-5 full in-person; Grades 6-12 hybrid model
  • January 18: No School 6-8; PreK-5 full in-person; 9-12 hybrid model
  • January 22: 9-12 End of 2nd Quarter/1st Semester
  • January 25: No School PreK-12; Teacher Workday PreK-12
  • January 25: School Board Meeting, DO, 7:00pm

Return to School

As communicated prior to winter break, all students will return to school in some type of in-person format per the following phased-in schedule:

  • PreK-2 - continue in person

  • 3-5 - full in person on January 11th

  • 6-12 - hybrid model on January 11th (A group on the 11th and B group on the 12th)

Our district COVID-19 dashboard has been updated with school district information through January 4.

Return to School Safety Protocols

  • PreK-12 students and staff will continue to wear masks throughout the day.

  • State guidelines for mask and shield went from required to strongly recommended. You are not required to wear both, it’s optional.

  • Bus Protocols: Students must continue to wear masks on school buses and adhere to their assigned seats, just as they would in a classroom setting. This is for their own safety and to reduce the impact of quarantine should there be a positive case on the bus. Parents/Guardians will be asked to support the district in emphasizing the expectation that bus protocols be followed.

  • COVID-19 testing for all staff in direct contact with students started Tuesday and will be available every two weeks. Look for more information regarding the next testing date of Tuesday, January 19 to be communicated next week.

  • For the most part, we will continue to follow the 14-day quarantine. Some exceptions may be made for some staff depending on their work. The rationale being that quarantine is an infection prevention tool for a person in close contact with someone who has or is suspected of having COVID-19 and requires the person to stay away from others for 14 days. The quarantine period does not change with a negative test result since it could develop after getting tested. Quarantine lasts for 14 days because COVID-19 has an incubation period between two to 14 days long.

Next Steps

  • We are awaiting further guidance on vaccination, federal legislation, and activities.

Department News

Business Services Update from Trevor Peterson

This update provides crucial information for all employees. Effective January 1st, we have employed a new Finance, HR & Payroll system that will affect the way you retrieve, edit, and monitor your payroll information, as well as other business office functions. Please refer to the PDF below or the Google Doc linked here for full details.

While this update is only the beginning of a systemic change, we do not have all the answers and ask you provide us with patience and understanding for how substantial of a change we are embarking on.

Please reach out to me at tpeterson@alexschools.org, or ext. 4206, with any questions or concerns.

2021 IRS Mileage Rate

Every year, the Internal Revenue Service adjusts the reimbursable mileage rate. Effective January 1st, 2021, the new mileage rate is $0.56 per mile. This is a decrease from $0.575 per mile in 2020.

For reimbursable mileage driven in 2021, please make sure you use an updated mileage form. These forms are located on the district’s website: Staff Intranet > Accounts Payable. As a reminder, make sure to sign in on the website to access the Staff Intranet area. You can also find the forms in the school, FNS and Transportation offices.

If you submit reimbursement for mileage that was driven in 2020, that will still be reimbursed at the $0.575 rate. In other words, mileage is reimbursed based on when the miles were driven and not when they are reimbursed.

Technology Update from Kevin Brezina

Greetings & Happy New Year from your Tech Team. This update will focus on next week's return. While we hope that most will come back in working order, there likely will be a few that need some attention. Please refer to the bullets below on the Chromebook & Technology Return:

Chromebook & Technology Return:

On Thursday or Friday of this week:

- Elementary Teachers should remind students to ensure they bring their chromebook, charger, and bus card to school on Monday.

- Middle School & High School Teachers should remind their students to bring their chromebooks and their lunch/bus/printing card with them to school. (As in the past, we encourage leaving the chargers at home for middle and high school.)

Elementary Teachers:

- As the chromebooks come back and they are put away, it is very important that the chromebook and charger are kept together and have the student's name on them.

- If chargers have not been returned, we ask that you remind the student/parent that the charger will need to be returned.

- If you find any physical damage (broken cases, keys, screens, etc.) to the device(s) being returned, we ask that you create one list for your class and put in a Tech Support ticket. Luke or Angie will then stop by and inspect the devices and determine if any additional fees may be necessary to ensure the device(s) are in proper working order.

All Teachers:

Your media paras do have some repair loaners available. If the student's device is damaged, your media para can loan one out until Luke or Angie can look at the device and work through the repair process with the family.

Tech Support Coverage on Monday January 11th:

The Tech Support team will be in all buildings mainly located in the media centers at some point on Monday. Please ensure that if you need technology assistance you e-mail tsupport@alexschools.org and someone will stop by on Monday.

School Board Briefs - January 4 Organizational Meeting

Meeting Schedule

The school board held their organizational meeting last night. The board will continue to meet on the third Monday of each month at 7:00 p.m. in the District Office conference room with the exception of January, February and September when the meeting will take place on the fourth Monday of those months.

Election of Board Offices for Calendar Year 2021

The 2021 elected positions for the board will be:

  • Chair: Angie Krebs
  • Vice Chair: Dave Anderson
  • Clerk: Bob Cunniff
  • Treasurer: Pam Carlson

Thank you to Dr. Dean Anderson who has served as the Board Chair for the last 15 years and has now passed the gavel to Angie Krebs. Dr. Anderson will continue serving the board as a director. The Alexandria School District has a well-respected reputation and solid processes and procedures exist because of his sound leadership as Chair. During his tenure, he has ensured a board culture of cooperation that is always looking for best solutions for students, staff and community.

Facility Challenges/Solutions

We are continuing to research options for facilities that are currently under lease in our community and what it might take to have those facilities be on site and under our care as a district. We know leasing can be a good short term solution and yet long term it is better to own and manage your own property. As we investigate next steps, look for additional communication toward the end of the month. We will also be reaching out to community groups that use our current leased facilities. These facilities include our gymnastics center and the county gymnasiums.

Paraprofessional Recognition Week - January 25-29, 2021

Governor Tim Walz has proclaimed January 25-29, 2021 as Paraprofessional Recognition Week. Currently there are 164 paraprofessionals who work in a variety of positions within Alexandria Public Schools. Please join me in thanking paraprofessionals for the important role they play in the lives of our students, our teachers, and our student programs.

Alexandria Public Schools

Our Mission is to achieve educational excellence and to inspire a life-long passion for learning.

Our Vision is to be an extraordinary school district that tailors learning for each child, by working together!