SHS returns to onsite learning


Jayden Ketola

SHS Principal Rick Flaherty is supervising the commons area during lunch hour at SHS on Jan 11.

By Jayden Ketola

On Jan. 11 all schools in the School District of Superior reopened for onsite learning. 

Resuming onsite learning is exciting for many. Students will have face to face interactions with their teachers and their peers once again. 

“I learn better when it’s face to face with a teacher,” senior Jonathon Rhodes said. “When I’m in class I can turn to a friend next to me and ask them a question without interrupting the whole class.” 

Along with resuming onsite learning the school board also made a new decision on what model they would use to shut down schools if COVID-19 cases would rise. Originally the district was using a Minnesota Metric known as a per capita rate in Douglas County, meaning that if the number of new cases in the past two weeks averaged 50 per 10,000 residents, the whole district would shut down for a minimum of two weeks. This metric was community-based and didn’t pertain to what was happening inside of the schools.

“We continue to see that the transmission rates are lower in our schools than in our community,” District Administrator Amy Starzecki said.

New data has shown that there is very little transmission of COVID-19 in the schools and that most of it is happening in the community. Starzecki says that if there are a lot of staff members absent in one building, then that school will most likely be shut down for 2-3 weeks until there are enough staff members to facilitate that school. 

The new metric that the district is adopting is known as staff absenteeism, meaning that if enough staff members are absent, the district will close that school. With this new metric, the whole district wouldn’t have to close over an outbreak in one school.  Although the district has picked a new model, there is no specific number of how many staff members will need to be gone in order to shut down. Starzecki does say that buildings have been difficult to facilitate with 15-20 percent of their staff members gone. SHS Principal Rick Flaherty says that it is hard to have enough guest teachers to fill in for all staff members who are absent. 

One big hope that many staff and students have is the ability to keep the schools open for the rest of the school year. In order to do that everyone needs to wear masks and practice social distancing guidelines. 

“We can control things here at school, we can remind kids about masks, we can have those requirements, we can use the seating in the cafeteria to make sure that kids are distanced, we can control that. What we can’t control is when kids get in the cars and take off and when they are at home and gathering,” Flaherty said. 

Once kids leave school it is up to them to do their part in the community to help keep the schools open. 

“It’s best for students to be in a controlled environment where they can learn,” instructional coach Jason Kalin said. “I’m doing my part by not going out.” 

Kalin says that he and his family refrain from going out to restaurants as well as friends’ houses so that way they are doing their part to help keep the schools open as well as helping to keep the winter sports in season. 

This decision was made at a board meeting held on Dec. 14 when all members of the school board voted in favor of reopening all schools in the district as well as resuming all winter sports and activities. 

With the decision that was made all athletics and activities were allowed to resume in person starting on the week of Monday, Dec. 21. On that night the district also voted to resume in-person learning on the week of Monday, Jan. 11, one week before the end of semester one.