With the new routines for the 2020-21 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wadena-Deer Creek Superintendent Lee Westrum, elementary principal Louis Rutten and middle/high school principal Tyler Church noted a good start with students, staff and parents adjusting well.

While one of the main concerns about returning to in-person learning has been face coverings, students have followed the requirement well with the main reminder to cover their nose, according to Westrum and Church. The elementary school is working on pick-up issues and both schools have a few glitches with technology for distance learning students.

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The district will continue with in-person learning as long as the case rates in Wadena County remain below 10, which would be about seven new positive cases a week according to Westrum. The case rates are based on the number of new positive cases of COVID-19 per the county population over 10,000 during a two week period. Westrum said the district watches the case rates “very closely” and works with Wadena County Public Health and Sourcewell for guidance.

There have been no positive cases of COVID-19 with staff or students though some have been tested and received negative results, according to Westrum. He reminded the school board that this can change quickly.

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“It’s going to happen, there’s no doubt about it and then we’ll go through our process. We’re prepared to do our best contact tracing, find out what students and staff were close contacts and we go from there,” Westrum said.

In a preliminary proposal, the board approved the maximum limitation for the 2021 tax levy. The levy currently sits at $2,097,745.22, which would be a decrease of 1.23% from 2020. The final levy will be discussed in the truth and taxation meeting, which the board approved for Dec. 14 at 6 p.m. Community members are welcome to attend with their questions and comments. Westrum said the final levy would be at 0% or include a slight decrease.

In other actions, the board approved:

  • The retirement/resignation of Daneen Aldrich (Paraprofessional).

  • The hires of Jeffrey Umland (Paraprofessional), Ellen Carlstrom (Custodian) and Beth Motschenbacher (Head Dance Coach).

  • The lane changes of Jordan Cresap, Angie Dertinger-Moats, Mary Ellenson, Mandy Gallant, Norm Gallant, Chelsa Golberg, Dawn Hamelau, Sara Lenz, Kyle Petermeier, Stephanie Pulver, Kristi Soule and Kevin Tumberg.

  • The paying of the district’s bills totaling $544,039.94.

  • Donations to the district totaling $15,048 and donations to student activities totaling $2,300.

  • The student handbooks for the elementary and middle high schools.

  • Moving free lunch December and January to January and February for students whose parents or guardians fill out the free and reduced lunch form. The United States Department of Agriculture also approved free breakfast and lunch until Dec. 31, or until the funds are gone.