2020 has certainly been a challenging year for many reasons. In schools across the country, teachers, students and parents had to rapidly change their ways of teaching and learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Distance learning became the way we needed to educate our students. All of us experienced some struggles associated with distance learning, and yet there were some very important lessons we learned as well. Just as in life, we have to take adverse situations and learn from them in order to improve as individuals.
As we prepare for the 2020-21 school year, schools around Minnesota have been asked to prepare for three different scenarios in order to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each of these scenarios could be used depending on the severity of the pandemic, so schools and families have to be prepared to respond to any one of these scenarios. The health and safety of our students and staff will be a top priority when planning for returning to school. With guidance from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), Governor Walz will determine in late July how schools will reopen and which scenario(s) school districts will follow.
Therefore, Mora Public Schools have begun working on these three scenarios and will use data from families and staff along with guidance from MDE and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) when planning for the upcoming school year. School districts must plan for the following three scenarios and be prepared to move from one scenario to another:
* Scenario 1: In-person learning for all students. Schools should create as much space between students and teachers as is feasible.
* Scenario 2: Hybrid Learning Model. Schools must limit the overall number of people in school facilities to 50% maximum occupancy and must follow social distancing of at least 6 feet between people.
* Scenario 3: Distance Learning only. This scenario may be implemented if local, regional, or statewide COVID-19 metrics worsen or cause a significant health and safety risk.
In addition to the above scenarios, we will offer a Family Flex Option for students who are medically fragile or are unable or unwilling to return to face to face learning. This option would allow students to distance learn even if school returns to in-person or a hybrid learning model. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate this uncharted territory together. Please visit our website for more information on the Mora Return to School 2020/2021 Plan at http://moraschools.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=365857&pageId=7791517
Shortly after being hired to be the next Superintendent of Mora Schools, district voters approved a referendum to build a new high school. I want to thank all the Mora community members for voting and supporting Mora Public Schools. The school district recently sold general obligation bonds to finance the new Mora High School. Since interest rates have declined significantly since initial estimates, and our school district received a “AAA” Minnesota Credit Enhancement Rating, the school district was able to secure a much lower interest rate. This will result in a reduction of approximately $5.5 million in local taxes, and $4.5 million in state aid. Furthermore, home owners will see reduction from original home owners tax estimates. For example, the tax impact on a $150,000 house was estimated to be $407/yr is now estimated to be $366/yr, or about a 10% reduction.
These past two months we have created groups of stakeholders that include students, teachers, parents, support staff, community members, administrators, and School Board members to begin the design process for the new high school. We have taken tours of new high schools to see what 21st Century schools look like and we are now in the process of designing our Mora High School. These are exciting times for our school and community. We will continue to provide updates of the building of Mora High School as we progress these next three years.