Owatonna Public Schools

District Newsletter

December 2020

From the Superintendent

Dear Families,

I hope this note finds you in good health. I appreciate all you have done to make our transition to distance learning as smooth as possible. I think we all agree that this is not the way we would choose to engage with our students right now, but know that the health and safety of our students, staff and their families has been, and will always be, our priority.

The current COVID numbers in our county are still trending upward. As of this newsletter, our county case number is nearly 180 per 10,000 residents. At one point, early in the school year we would have thought that anything over 50 cases was almost unfathomable. We know that it will take all of us following the public health recommendations of masking up, social distancing and washing hands frequently to bring down our case numbers and get our students back in school. It is our hope that we will be able to come back to school in-person with our E-5 students and hybrid with our 6-12 students on January 11.

I have been able to sit in on some of the live teaching sessions this past week and have so enjoyed seeing the faces of our students. Even though we would prefer to be in person, our distance learning platform has vastly improved since last spring. I would like to recognize all of the hard work and time that our educators have put into this improvement.

As we close the books on an unexplainable year, we put great hope into the future and the promise that 2021 has for us. We will prevail and get better every day.

Jeffrey S. Elstad


Virtual Coffee and Conversation with the Superintendent

The community is invited to join Superintendent Elstad for a virtual “coffee and conversation” on Friday, December 11 at 8:30 a.m. Hear an update on what’s been happening within the school district and bring any questions you have.

RSVP by emailing shoffman@isd761.org by 4:00 Wednesday, December 9 to receive the virtual meeting details. We hope you are able to participate!

Mission Moment

Each month at its regular meeting, the School Board of Owatonna Public Schools recognizes individual students and/or staff members who exemplify the district’s mission of inspiring excellence - every learner, every day.

At the November 23 meeting, Superintendent Elstad recognized Mrs. Melgaard's Husky Connections class at OMS that raised funds last school year for TeamTrees by making acrylic pour magnets and selling them during their lunch periods. The proceeds from their sales and free-will donations helped to plant 400 trees around the nation, some of which were recently planted in our own back yard in the Chippewa National Forest. The class was featured in the TeamTrees K-12 newsletter. The article noted that the "world is a better place because of these youth tree planters.”

We are #OwatonnaProud of our staff and students for living our mission of inspiring excellence!

Watch the video from the November 23 Board meeting.

Truth in Taxation - December 14, 6:00 PM

On Monday, December 14th, the school board meeting will begin at 5:30 pm and the annual Truth in Taxation hearing will begin at 6:00 pm.

Due to the current federal and state emergency declarations and guidance about limiting person-to-person contact due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, all meetings of the Owatonna Public Schools (ISD 761) school board are conducted in accordance with Minnesota Statute 13D.021 - Meetings by Telephone or Other Electronic Means - until further notice.

In accordance with Minnesota Statute 13D.021, members of the public are not permitted to attend meetings due to the current health pandemic. Persons may monitor meetings from a remote location by viewing the live-stream video found on the school district website: https://www.isd761.org/our-district/school-board/meeting-dates.

If anyone would like to make a public comment at the regular Board meeting, please email your comment to schoolboard@isd761.org by 3:00 pm the day of the regular meeting, and please include your name, address, and phone number as per our normal public comment procedure, and your comment will be read during the meeting.

Likewise, questions during the Truth in Taxation presentation on December 14 at 6:00 pm may be emailed to levy@isd761.org.



For student technology issues, please call the Owatonna Public Schools technology hotline: 507-444-8630.


Meal bundles are available FREE of charge for all children ages 1 - 18 until June 30, 2021! Meal pick up will be from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm on the following dates: November 24, 30, December 2, 8, 10, 15, 17, 22, and January 4, 5, 7. Click here for more information, including pick-up locations.


All COVID-19 testing is no cost at Minnesota community testing sites. We are working together with communities to make sure everyone can get tested.

All Minnesotans are now able to order an at-home saliva test at no cost.

For more information, visit COVID-19 Test at Home.

New CDC Guidance on Quarantine

The Minnesota Department of Health is aware that the CDC has announced new guidance about shortening quarantine in certain situations. The guidance continues to recommend a 14-day quarantine but provides frameworks for local governments to consider additional options. The state is reviewing the guidance and will make recommendations over the next few days. For the time being, people should continue following the current guidelines to stay home for 14 days and MDH will provide formal updates on state guidance as soon as possible. If wondering what to do in cases of close contact, review the MDH Decision Tree.

COVID-19 Exposure Notification Mobile App Now Available in Minnesota

On Monday Nov. 23, the Governor announced the availability of a new COVID-19 exposure notification mobile application, COVIDaware MN, and encouraged all Minnesotans to use it. The app is aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 by helping Minnesotans protect themselves and their loved ones. The voluntary, anonymous application will alert a user if another user with whom they have had close contact during the virus’ infectious period tests positive for COVID-19. Minnesotans can learn more about the app on the COVIDaware MN website, and download it from the Google Play or App Store.

Children's Remedial Fund of Steele County

The Children's Remedial Fund of Steele County provides financial support to eligible families who have children with medical, dental, vision, hearing, school supplies, and winter clothing needs.

Eligibility is based on:

  • Any child age 0-18;
  • Residency in Steele County
  • Income guidelines consistent with the free and reduced school lunch program
  • Service of current needs only (can not assist with old debts)


80% of charges with payment directly to the provider; the remaining 20% is the responsibility of the applicant.

If interested, request an application from your community school nurse or school social worker. The application is also available on the website.

World's Best Workforce

The World's Best Workforce Annual Meeting was held on Monday, November 23 prior to the school board meeting. The annual report and presentation can be viewed on our website. And the recorded meeting can be viewed on our YouTube channel.

Questions? Contact:

Michelle Krell, Director of Teaching and Learning

Email: mkrell@isd761.org

Phone: 507-444-8613


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