WORTHINGTON — We have all heard it said many different ways from many different sources recently; we are currently navigating in unprecedented times. As the response on a federal, state, and local level to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect everybody’s lives, District 518 has adapted many of its policies to adhere to social distancing guidelines as well as directives from the State of Minnesota relating to instruction and community services.

On Monday, March 30, ISD 518 students, teachers and support staff began distance learning in accordance with the directive from Gov. Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Education. The process of developing and implementing a distance learning plan across the district has had its fair share of bumps, twists and turns, but ISD 518 students and staff have persevered and remain committed to excellence in education — whatever form of delivery that education may take. To view ISD 518’s Distance Learning Plan, please visit www.isd518.net and click on the link on the top of the page.

Though the methods of education have changed, ISD 518 will continue to adhere to the previously planned academic calendar. On April 9, 10 and 13, there will be no instruction for students. This scheduled break will be observed across all grade levels in ISD 518. In the realm of distance learning, this means students will be not expected to perform various attendance tasks for those days.

As the district goes forward with distance learning, additional practices have been put into place regarding access to district facilities. In the interest of reducing social interactions and adhering to social distancing guidelines, District 518 facilities are closed to the public except by prior appointment. This includes access for new student registration. To begin the process of new student registration, please call 372-2172. To begin the registration process in Spanish, please call 727-1247. Both of these numbers are available from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Throughout the period of distance learning planning and implementation, ISD 518 has continued to provide critical services to our community including food service for area youths and child care for qualified “Tier 1 and 2” workers. District 518 food service has been distributing meals from 11 a.m. to noon at 10 locations and from noon to 1 p.m. at an 11th location. This food service is available to all youths up to age 18. The food distributed at these sites include a lunch for the current day as well as a breakfast for the following day.

For more information on distribution sites, please visit www.isd518.net or call the district office at 372-2172. Meals are also being delivered to students on rural bus routes. To sign up for this service, please call Bud’s Bus Service at (507) 372-5552.

Childcare for qualifying “Tier 1 and 2” workers is taking place at Prairie Elementary, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m to 5 p.m. ISD 518 is providing care for District 518 students ages 5 to 12 years old. To register for this service, please visit www.isd518.net or call 727-1250. There are two required registration forms that must be completed before this child care service can be utilized. Medical, emergency and food supply professions have been qualified to use this service. To see if you qualify, please reference Gov. Walz’s Executive Order 20-02.

Regularly scheduled meetings for the District 518 School Board will look different for the foreseeable future as well. As a precaution and to adhere to social distancing guidelines, school board meetings will now be held using telephones or other electronic means in accordance with Minnesota Statutes 12D.021 until further notice. This will limit person-to-person contact while still allowing the board to address agenda items as they arise.

The federal, state and local guidance for navigating everyday life during the COVID-19 pandemic has affected everybody in various ways. District 518 is working to maintain excellence in education while continuing to support the community with several critical services that it is operating. The district would like to thank the community for its support and understanding in these unprecedented times.

Parker Sandhurst is District 518's communications coordinator.