Parent pleas for more in-person learning but Alexandria School Board stays the course

Nine cases of COVID-19 reported in school system so far.

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A parent of a sixth grader addressed the Alexandria School Board Monday, Sept. 28, and requested a change of schedule for middle schoolers to full-time in-person instruction.

The parent's daughter started sixth grade this year, and the hybrid model has taken much of the emotional and social aspects of school away, which has taken a toll on her education. The mother said her daughter is a student with “above-average intelligence,” but she’s not receiving guidance from her peers and adults. Both parents work full-time, so her daughter is at home alone from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on days she has online learning.

“We’re really putting a lot on her to not only supervise herself for that long but to then manage her education,” the parent said.

Superintendent Rick Sansted said though transitions are challenging, the school board shouldn’t be reactionary in its response. He recommended to wait and look at trends over time to decide how to move forward.

He said there have been nine cases of COVID-19 within the school district, which is on the low end of the county’s overall numbers.


Individuals who test positive and those who have been in close contact with that person must quarantine. Sansted said with help from Alomere, Horizon Public Health and Sanford Health, contact tracing has been conducted to identify any additional people who would need to self-isolate.

Sansted mentioned the efforts to approve more health care workers to serve as a COVID-19 hotline for parents, as they work to complete screening of their kids before they go to school each day.

“At this point, my recommendation would be to continue as we are,” Sansted said. “I know that the community spread is present, but I don’t know necessarily that we’ve isolated that in any one school or one place.”

A unanimous decision was made to adopt district policies as discussed in the August meeting , including the continuation of the current educational model: hybrid at the secondary schools and in-person at the elementary.

“It’s good to get some feedback,” Sansted said. “Continuing to listen to the experiences of our students, our parents and our teachers is really important, as we move forward in making decisions. I’d say that’s good data.”

In other business:

  • At the Sept. 22 budget and facilities committee meeting, it was noted that overall enrollment was 4,131 students, which is about 70 students below spring projections.
  • Trevor Peterson, director of business services, presented the 2019-2020 financial audit to the school board, which he reported as clean and unmodified. He pointed out some compliance issues, but those were based on spring sports that didn’t have a regular season or use any funds this fiscal year.
  • Peterson also outlined the 2021 preliminary property tax levy limitation, which decreased by $71,234.35, or -0.44%, but he said this could fluctuate based on enrollment.

Rick Sansted

Jasmine Johnson joined the Echo Press staff in May 2020 as a general assignment reporter. She grew up in Becker, Minn., and later studied journalism and graphic design at Bethel University in Arden Hills, Minn.
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