Owatonna Public Schools

District Newsletter - March 2021

Mission Moment

At the February 22 school board meeting, Superintendent Elstad recognized Dr. Tom Meagher, STEM Coordinator, for his commitment to high-quality teaching and learning. Dr. Meagher has had an impact on thousands of students! We are #OwatonnaProud that he is a part of our school community.

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.

Watch the video from the February 22 school board meeting.

New High School Update

At the school board work session on Monday, February 8, 2021, Wold Architects and Engineers provided an update on plans and progress of the new high school, which is still on track to open in the fall of 2023. View the full update with renderings here.

For more information about the new high school, please visit our website.

What is 21st Century Learning?

This updated article by Superintendent Elstad was published in the Owatonna People's Press last month, and the original article first appeared in October 2018.

What is 21st Century Learning?

We hear this terminology used constantly in education and certainly in other vocations. What does it mean and how does it impact the learning that is occurring and will continue to occur in our classrooms? Within the Owatonna Public Schools we define 21st Century Learners as students who are Collaborative, Creative, Critical Thinkers, Effective Communicators and Community-focused.

Some may say that these same skill sets have been present for hundreds of years. I would agree, but the game has certainly changed in what is expected of our students as they leave our system for the workplace and the global community. Each one of these skills is equally important to ensure our students learn how to succeed, lead and thrive in the 21st century. Our students need high-quality education that inspires them and prepares them for the real-life challenges of today’s world.

Click here to read the full article and learn more about these 21st century skills.

Virtual Coffee and Conversation with the Superintendent

The community is invited to join Superintendent Elstad for a virtual “coffee and conversation” on Friday, March 19 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, March 17 to receive the virtual meeting details. We hope you are able to participate!

School Board Recognition Week

The Minnesota School Boards Association set the week of February 22-26 as Minnesota School Board Recognition Week. That week, Owatonna Public Schools joined other Minnesota districts in recognizing our school board members.

Minnesota school board members are chosen by their communities through election or appointment to manage local schools. These volunteer leaders are responsible for overseeing budgets, formulating school district policy, approving curriculum, maintaining school facilities, and adhering to state and federal education law. Legal concerns and the complexities of school finance, including budgeting and taxation, require them to spend many hours in board training programs and personal study to enhance their understanding of these issues.

Our deepest appreciation is extended to the dedicated men and women who make it possible for local citizens to participate in education in our community. We salute the public servants of the ISD 761 (Owatonna Public Schools) School Board whose commitment and civic responsibility make local control of public schools in our community possible: Mark Sebring, Lori Weisenburger, Jolayne Mohs, Eric Schuster, Deborah Bandel, Nikki Gieseke, and Tim Jensen.

Grades 6-12 Return to In-Person Learning 4 Days a Week

While our youngest learners (early childhood through grade 5) have been fortunate enough to attend school in-person every day for much of the school year, our students in grades 6-12 have followed a hybrid model in which two groups of students rotate to attend school in-person two days a week and participate in distance learning the other three days of the week. Starting on Tuesday, March 30, our students in grades 6-12 will return to school in-person four days a week.

Why only a four-day in-person week for students in grades 6-12?

In order for us to meet the guidance of Executive Order 20-82 and, more importantly, meet the needs of our students and families that have chosen a full distance learning opportunity, our 6-12 staff needs time to provide a minimum of one day per week connection with our distance learning students. Families who chose a distance learning model for their child(ren) earlier in the year will continue to use the distance learning model.

Transition Schedule for Grades 6-12

  • Monday, March 15 - Group 1 Hybrid Day
  • Tuesday, March 16 - Group 2 Hybrid Day
  • Wednesday, March 17 - Distance Learning Day and OHS Testing Day
  • Thursday, March 18 - No School Grades 6-12 (Transition Day)
  • Friday, March 19 - No School Grades K-12 (Teacher Work Day)
  • March 22-26 - No School Grades K-12 (Spring Break)
  • Monday, March 29 - No School Grades 6-12 (Transition Day)

Parents of students in grades 6-12 should have received a communication at the end of February from the district containing the details of this transition.

We look forward to having our students in-person again and ask for your continued vigilance with regard to social distancing, masking up, and refraining from attending large gatherings.

COVID-19 Testing for Kids and Families

MDH announced a recommendation for all school-age youth returning to school, youth sports, or extracurricular activities, and their families, to get tested every two weeks through the end of the school year. While it is not a requirement, regular testing complements other safety measures already in place, such as masking and social distancing. You can visit a community testing site, order an at-home test kit, or get tested through your health care provider. All options are quick, easy, and free to you. Visit Getting Tested for COVID-19 or contact your health care provider to schedule an appointment.

Getting tested every two weeks from now until the end of the school year can help keep schools open and sports operating, and ensure we are limiting the spread of COVID-19.

No School March 19-26

There is no school Friday, March 19 for the end of the quarter teacher work day, and March 22-26 for spring break. We wish everyone a safe and relaxing spring break week. It's a good time to recharge and continue taking care of yourselves - physically and emotionally. When students return to school on Monday, March 29, please keep in mind the CDC's post-travel recommendations and our school community's prevention measures of maintaining six feet of physical distance from others when possible, masking consistently, staying home when sick and seeking testing as appropriate, hand hygiene, and following quarantine guidance.


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