WDC schedules in-person driver's education for July

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The Wadena-Deer Creek driver's education and behind-the-wheel program will continue in-person this summer with added health and safety precautions, such as students sitting six feet apart. At a behind-the-wheel session, instructor Brenda Thelen (left) checks student Zoe Curtis' temperature. Photo courtesy of Mike Ortmann

In hopes of having an in-person driver’s education class, the Wadena-Deer Creek program pushed their class from the beginning of June to July.

“We felt that it would be a much better experience for the kids to do it in-person,” said WDC driver’s education program coordinator Scott Endres. He also noted Staples and New York Mills completed virtual classes at the beginning of June.

The driver’s education class will run from July 20-Aug. 3 with behind-the-wheel sessions following. The class will take place in Robertson Theatre with the possibility of two sessions or moving to Memorial Auditorium if the number of students exceeds the 6 feet apart guidelines, according to Endres. As of June 8, 15 students have registered.

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When students arrive for their behind-the-wheel practice they are asked about the following symptoms, a fever, chills, new cough, shortness of breath, new sore throat, new muscle aches, new headache and new loss of smell or taste. Photo courtesy of Mike Ortmann


On June 1, Endres and four instructors began the behind-the-wheel program with students from summer 2019 and March 2020. Students and instructors wear face masks and rubber gloves and the car is wiped down after each session along with daily temperature scans and health questionnaires. Six students are scheduled throughout the day with 30 minute time slots, Endres said.

The students in this summer’s class will have about two to three weeks to begin their behind-the-wheel portion but sports schedules, driving with parents before and obtaining their permits cause difficulties in scheduling, according to Endres. Students need to take a knowledge test at a Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services exam station, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic only specific locations are open with Detroit Lakes as the closest one. Endres recommends arriving early as he took his son a few weeks ago and was turned away due to the high capacity of people.

“As we drive with students from the March class from here on out the rest of the summer, my hope is that they are able to get in and get their permits because most of them weren’t able to get their permit in March after the class, they had to wait until after the corona shutdown and all that stuff. So hopefully they’re able to get in there and get their permits otherwise they won’t be able to drive with us this summer,” Endres said.

The knowledge tests are available based on when people arrive at the exam station, according to the DVS website. The Detroit Lakes exam station is located at 1000 W Hwy 10 with the hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday though knowledge tests end at 3:30.

To register for the WDC driver’s education program by June 30, visit . The program costs $275 for WDC students and $350 for non-WDC students, according to the registration form. A parent meeting will be held in Memorial Auditorium on July 16 from 6:30-8 p.m.

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