As part of its return-to-school safely plan, the Brandon-Evansville School District will be requiring the use of face coverings under the executive order of the governor due to COVID-19.

School starts Tuesday, Sept. 8 and as it stands now, all students can return to school in person.

At the Tuesday, Aug. 17, regular school board meeting, Superintendent Don Peschel presented the COVID-19 Face Covering Policy to board members.

The policy was provided to schools by the Minnesota School Board Association and according to Peschel is not a requirement but a recommendation.

School board member Jana Anderson, who was the only school board member of the seven-member board wearing a mask, asked if the policy was needed.

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Peschel, who was also wearing a mask, said policies are put in place to protect school districts.

He added, however, that he feels the district is covered by the Guide to Mask Use that is in the return-to-school safely plan.

He added that not all school districts are adopting the new face coverings policy and that it was up to the school board.

School board member Andy Siira said there were a number of things within the policy that he didn’t agree with, one of which was an item under the enforcement and consequences portion, which says that employees who fail or refuse to comply may be subject to discipline, including termination of employment.

Siira said he took issue with that part of the policy.

Peschel said in order for the B-E School District to change the language in the policy, it would have to involve the district’s legal people and that again, the policy is not required.

In order for the district to approve the policy, it has to do what is called a first reading, where the policy read aloud. Then, at the next regular school board meeting, the policy is read again and then the school board can decide whether to approve it.

Because the use of face coverings is covered in the return-to-school safely plan, the board members were going to disregard the policy, but Anderson said they may as well do the first reading and then at the next school board meeting, they can decide if they want to approve it.

Superintendent Peshel the portion of the six-page policy that needed to be read and the board will make a decision at the next meeting.

Open house canceled

Due to COVID-19, the annual open house that takes place each year before the first day of school is canceled. However, the district is setting up dates for parents and students to meet with teachers individually.

The meetings will be similar to how conferences are held and will take place Sept. 2 and 3. However, the high school will do it a bit differently where students and parents will have certain hours they can come in and meet with the advisors. For instance on Sept.2, it will be from 1 to 3 p.m. More information will be sent out to students and parents prior to Sept. 2.

Survey results

Peshel updated school board members about the survey the district conducted by sending emails to all parents asking specific information about sending students back. He said they received 218 responses which represented 455 students in the district.

“We received good results and we thank parents for filling out the survey,” Peschel said.

Of the 455 students, he said about 20 were opting to go with distance learning. Although he said that number was not etched in stone as some parents were still undecided.

He added that the district is definitely much more equipped to handle distance learning now than when it was forced into this past spring.

“Distance learning will be different this fall,” said Peschel. “And we will do the best we can.”

As for transportation, he said that about 60% of the parents said their students would be needing transportation with the other 40% would be bringing their students to school.

When asked if that was about normal, Peschel said the number of students who will not be needing transportation is up.

Peschel told school board members the district would be working with the bus company to figure out the logistics, including bus routes.

More information about the upcoming school year and the school’s plan for having its students return safely, can be found on the school district’s website, b-e.k12.mn.us.