Phoenix Family News

January 8, 2021

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Important Dates Ahead...

  • January 11-13: Online classes resume / K-5 DL and VLA in session
  • January 14-15: Teacher Planning day - No School / Ecare at Middleton Elementary
  • January 15: VLA pick-up 9:30-11:30 (your classroom teacher will communicate if there is something for you to pick-up) / Ecare at Middleton Elementary

  • January 18: MLK Jr. Holiday - No school
  • January 19-21:
    - Dial students K-3 multiage in person (drop off 9:00, pick up 3:45)
    - Dial students Gateway 3/4/5 and 4-5 multiage distance learning
    - VLA K-5 continues
    - Kid's Club and Ecare at Valley Crossing
  • January 22: Teacher Planning day - No school K-5 dial and VLA

  • January 24-25 - Picture Retakes
  • February 1: Gateway 3/4/5 and 4-5 Multiage in person / VLA continues

A Note from the Principal

Happy new year!

We are excited to welcome your child back to our school. As a reminder, our K-3 multiage students will return to school on Jan. 19, and Gateway students in grades 3-5 and 4-5 multiage students will remain in distance learning until their return to school on Feb. 1. Students who chose Virtual Learning Academy (VLA) for trimester two will remain in VLA.

COVID and its related challenges are still very much at play. In an effort to keep students and staff safe, we will continue most of our hybrid protocols and procedures. However, given the fact that we will have twice as many students at school, adjustments will need to be made. Please take time to review the key information below as you prepare for your child’s return:

Calendar and Schedule Updates

The latest calendar updates are available at

  • Jan. 14-15 - No School (K-5): Staff planning days (No school for K-5 Virtual Learning Academy students)

  • Jan. 15 - Last day of essential care for students (K-3 multiage)

  • Jan. 18 - No School (ECSE, PreK-12): holiday

  • Jan. 19 - Grades K-3 multiage return to in-person learning

  • Jan. 22 - No School (ECSE, PreK-12): staff planning day as previously scheduled

  • Jan. 29 - Last day of essential care for students (Gateway 3/4/5 and 4-5 multiage)

  • Feb. 1 - Gateway 3/4/5 and Grades 4-5 multiage return to in-person learning

Student drop-off and pick-up

  • Drop off and pick up will continue with the same protocols as during hybrid. An email will be shared next week to review our procedures. Drop-off time will remain 9:00, and pickup time will be 3:45 pm.

Face coverings

  • Face masks are required at all times including during physical education. Students are encouraged to bring a second mask should they need to change masks after physical education. We will continue to have extra masks available should students need one.

  • Our staff will be wearing masks at all times - both inside and outside. When possible, many of our staff may be wearing face masks and face shields together.


  • When possible, we will work to maintain three feet of distance between students.

  • Valley Crossing will move to using "team bubbles" as opposed to "homebase bubbles" for instruction, so students may be flexibly grouped between their team of teachers in their neighborhood. All teams are comprised of two teachers, with the exception of A4-5 and Gateway 4-5 that are both comprised of three teachers.

Specialist classes

  • The specialist rotation we utilized during hybrid and distance learning will continue. Students may occur in the homebase room, or they may go to the specialist classroom during their class’s specialist time.


  • Students in K-1 will eat breakfast in the classroom and lunch in the cafeteria. All student meal times for grades 2-5 will be held in the classroom.


  • Students will be assigned to rotating zones on the playground with their homebase class for am and pm recess.

Student support programs

  • Special education, English learners and counseling services may continue to pull students from their primary classroom in order to provide essential support services with social distancing in place.

Essential care

  • Essential care for critical workers will continue in our school building on Jan. 19 for Gateway 3/4/5 and 4-5 multiage, and will end for grade levels as they return to in-person learning.

Illness and Absences

  • Please be sure to call in to our attendance line to report absences or illness.

  • Any sick student who is sent to school, or is determined to be sick during the school day, will immediately be sent home.

Kids Club

  • Kids Club before and after-school child care will continue in our school building on Jan. 19.

Transportation Information

  • Transportation will have routes ready and will be posted in Parent Portal on January 14th.


  • The 14-day quarantine period will remain in place. If staff or students had close contact with an infected person, the Minnesota Department of Health may direct us to keep them out of school for a minimum of 14 days.

  • We ask that families be prepared for the possibility that their child’s class could move to distance learning at any time due to a potential COVID-19 exposure.

If you have any questions, please contact me at or 651.425.7503. Thank you for supporting your child and Valley Crossing Elementary.


Connha Classon, Principal

GT Identification Update

For important updates to the SoWashCo Gifted and Talented Identification timeline for grades 2-5, please see the GE Website: Identification.

Battle of the Books!

Attention families of Battle of the Books Participants: Friday, January 15 will be our last synchronous virtual Battle of the Books meeting. Moving forward, students will share communications with their teammates asynchronously via FlipGrid. Students can get more information in their Seesaw Battle of the Books classes, and families and coaches can look for email communications from Ms. Lanners with more information. We look forward to seeing 2/3 students at 1:30pm and 4/5 students at 2:30pm on January 15!

Curbside Book Checkout

Thank you to everyone who continues to take advantage of our library book pickup! We will continue these opportunities throughout the month for our dial families, and the rest of the year for VLA families. We also ask that you return any library books you may have at home, as we want to share those books with other readers! Books can be returned anytime between 9am-3pm on school days. There is a black cart in the front entryway where they can be dropped off, or there will be a separate cart for returns on the Friday pick up dates.

  • Students will be allowed to request three books at a time.
  • Books requested by Thursday of any scheduled week will be available for Friday pick-up.
  • Books will be labeled with the student’s name on a cart outside the front entrance to the building.
  • Between the hours of 10:00am and 3:00pm, families can walk up, grab the books, and enjoy at home!
  • Books can then be returned at the next Friday pick-up, or dropped off on the black cart in the front entryway at any time.
  • Dates of Friday Curbside Book Checkout Pickups are:
    • January 15, 29
  • Instructions for all the steps in the book request process are below!

Destiny Discover Online Catalog

How To Request Books (Written Instructions)

How to Login to Destiny (Video)

How to Browse for Library Books (Video)

How to Hold & Favorite Books (Video)

How to Know your Books are ready for Pickup (Video)

  • Please contact Ms. Lanners, Media Specialist, via Seesaw or email ( if you have further questions.

A Note from our Social Worker

Resources for Families - District 833 has a website that will link you to a variety of resources from food, mental health, and unemployment and so much more. Bookmark this page for future use:

Mindfulness Practice for Kids - Mindful Schools offers a free mindfulness class for kids. This is a great opportunity for students to continue mindful practices at home:

Growing Through Grief Program - District 833 is now partnering with the Park Nicollet Foundation to bring the program Growing Through Grief to our schools. Through grant dollars, Growing Through Grief is a free service that provides group and individual support services during the school day to students. Research shows that each person experiences grief differently and it may continue to affect a person throughout their lifetime as different transitions and life situations occur. The program has the ability to follow a child through their school experience (through high school) as they continue in South Washington County School District even if they do not continue to have a need for services.

Joan Boevers is the Grief Counselor assigned to South Washington County District. She provides group and individual support as well as death-related crisis support. The program’s purpose is to provide grief education, to allow for space for students to talk about their grief, teach coping skills, and foster peer support. The Growing Through Grief program does not provide therapy. Ideal student candidates for the program would be a student whose parent, sibling, close friend, or primary caregiver has died.

At Valley Crossing, we are excited to announce that Growing for Grief will be offered at our location either onground or virtually based on student needs. Each support group will be 30-40 minutes in length and have 4-8 participants. If you feel that your child would benefit from participating in a support group, please contact Dr. Gervais at for more information.

Attendance during Distance Learning

  • Attendance is expected for all students during distance learning.
  • If a child is absent, parents should call the health office like when we are in person.

  • If a family has a scheduling conflict, they should work with the specific teacher to make up any work. This could include a video recording of the lesson. It could also include completing the SeeSaw activity for the day (or other work).

  • If your child attends e-care at Middleton: Call absences to Middleton Attendance Line @ 651-425-4906
  • If your child attends all day Kids Club at Bailey: Call absences to Bailey Elementary Attendance line @ 651-425-4806
  • All other illnesses or absences should be reported to the Valley Crossing Attendance Line @ 651-425-7506

VCES Information Links

VCES Contact Information

Connha Classon, Principal: / 651.425.7503

Kristine McDonald, Assistant Principal: / 651.425.7523

Merita LaPlante, Office Coordinator: / 651.425.7501

Jen Gackstetter, Office Assistant: / 651.425.7507

Jen Gervais, Social Worker: / 651.425.7502