Owatonna Public Schools

District Newsletter

August 2020

Message from the Superintendent

Parent Video 862020

Fall Student Enrollment Form Deadline Extended

Earlier this week, all families were emailed a letter that contained a link to the fall student enrollment form. The deadline for families to submit this form has been extended through Sunday, August 9.

As part of the Governor's order, we are prepared to offer a full distance learning option for any family that chooses to participate in this learning model. The fall student enrollment form must be completed In order for us to plan staffing for students and families choosing distance learning.

Click here to be taken to the form.

Safe Learning Plan

On Thursday, July 30, Governor Walz and the Minnesota Department of Education announced that school district operations for the 2020-2021 school year will be driven by county-level virus metrics provided by the Minnesota Department of Health. We will be using the tools provided by the Minnesota Department of Health for guidance as to what will be the safest way for our district to start school and move forward throughout the school year. It is clear that our local collective effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 will determine whether or not students can attend school in-person.

In this situation, unpredictability reigns supreme. We must remember we are still in the midst of a global health pandemic and the circumstances continue to change. Ongoing decision-making about our school model will be a direct result of local virus data. We must all do our part by taking necessary precautions if we would like students to return to, and remain, in school. We thank our parents and community members for their support, patience, and understanding as we work to implement the Governor’s direction. Our main priority continues to be the health, safety, and wellness of our students, staff, and community.

Owatonna Public Schools will continue to monitor the community and school-level impact of COVID-19 on a regular basis in consultation with public health to determine if adjustments are needed. As always, our priority is the safety and wellness of our students, staff, and community. For more information on the Owatonna Public Schools safe learning plan, please visit our website: www.isd761.org/covid-19. The video from the August 3 school board meeting when the learning scenarios were presented to the Board is also available on our website: www.isd761.org/our-district/school-board.

Learn More

Owatonna Public Schools Safe Learning Plan

Decision-Making Tools

Minnesota Safe Learning Plan

Executive Order 20-82

Big picture

School Calendar Update

Because of the unusual start to the school year, the school board approved some changes to the school calendar to allow for additional preparation time for our staff. Two teacher training/planning days have been added on August 31 and September 1. The first day of school will be September 2 for grades 9-12, September 3 for grades 6-8, and September 8 for grades K-5. 6th graders should report for orientation day on September 2. More details about the beginning of the school year will come directly from your child's school.

School Funding Requests on Nov. 3rd Ballot

To maintain the quality education our community expects and our students deserve, the School Board unanimously approved placing two school funding requests on the November 3rd ballot. Whether voters approve this funding will impact every student and every school.

Question one would renew an existing operating levy that is about to expire. Question two would phase-in increases to the operating levy in 2022 and 2025. By phasing in the increase over time, it also phases in the tax impact with no tax increase until 2022. The additional revenue provided if question two is approved would enable the district to maintain quality programming and activities, appropriate class sizes and career-technical education programs, while providing financial stability for the next decade.

Last fall, Owatonna residents approved bond funds to build a new high school. Bonds can only be used to build or maintain buildings. Operating levies, such as the ones that will be on the November ballot, are a legally separate funding stream. Levies fund school operations, such as staff, classroom supplies, curriculum, and bus transportation. The majority of Minnesota school districts have voter-approved operating levies, as one way local communities support their schools.

Learn more about the two ballot questions here.

Coffee and Conversation with the Superintendent

The community is invited to join Superintendent Elstad for a virtual “coffee and conversation” on Friday, August 14 at 8:00 a.m. Hear an update on what’s been happening within the school district and bring any questions you have.

RSVP to shoffman@isd761.org by the end of the day on Wednesday, August 12 to receive the virtual meeting details. We hope you are able to participate!

School Board Candidate Filing Period

On November 3, 2020, three members will be elected to the School Board for terms of four years each. The candidate filing period for this year's General Election began July 28, 2020, and it ends at 5:00 pm on August 11, 2020. Each candidate must file an affidavit of candidacy with the school district clerk at the District Office, 515 West Bridge Street, Owatonna. The filing fee is $2.00.

Questions may be directed to Sarah Hoffman via email: shoffman@isd761.org or phone: 507-444-8610.

For more information, visit our website.

Special School Board Meeting and Work Session August 10

The special meeting begins at 5:30 pm and the work session will immediately follow it.

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 will be 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 on our website. The video link will be posted here by 5:30 pm on Monday, August 10.

Back to School Reminders

Health Services

To enable the school to give your child proper health care, the school nurse’s office welcomes any health communications or questions related to the health of your child. A licensed practical nurse is in the office from 7:45 until 2:45 each school day. Click any of the links below to learn more.

Should your child stay home from school?


Immunizations: Is your child ready for school?


If you are feeling sick, stay home. Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, fatigue, congestion, or loss of taste or smell. Other less common symptoms include gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after you are exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. Not everyone with COVID-19 has all of these symptoms, and some people may not have any symptoms. Talk to your health care provider if you have questions or concerns about symptoms. Refer to the Decision Tree for People with COVID-19 Symptoms, found on the Minnesota Department of Health’s website.

COVID-19 Basic Principles

  • Sick students, teachers and staff should not come to school.

  • Enforce regular handwashing with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer.

  • Daily disinfecting & cleaning of schools and highly used objects surfaces

  • Social distancing - including limiting large gatherings

  • Wearing cloth face coverings over your mouth and nose in public settings

School Breakfasts and Lunches

Nutrition Services strives to offer students a variety of healthy, tasty, and high-quality foods to fuel their growing bodies. Students are encouraged to actively participate in our meal program by eating breakfast and/or lunch and providing feedback about the meals. Each school meal offers milk, fruits, vegetables, protein, and grains, making each meal a great value and convenience for busy families. Click the links below to learn more about the following topics:

Meal Prices and Account Information

Apply for Free or Reduced-Price Meals

Birthday Treats/Classroom Parties

Special Dietary Needs

Make a Plan

Developing an emergency plan can help you and your family be prepared for whatever comes your way. It is never too early to develop a plan for your family. It is also a good idea to revisit and update existing plans. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is requiring us to plan in different ways than other emergencies. One important plan to have in place is what to do if a parent or guardian becomes sick or hospitalized due to the virus.

Minnesota residents are encouraged to develop a plan for how you, your family, and caregivers will respond to a potential illness or hospitalization. Having a plan can help reduce stress in the event of an emergency and help everyone transition. Start by having a conversation with everyone involved and use this as a guide.

Make a Plan Instructions

Information and Planning Kits

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