As most people probably know, on Sunday, March 15, Gov. Tim Walz announced an executive order closing all public schools in Minnesota from March 18 through March 27. This time was to be used by school staff to develop plans for “Distance Learning," designed to continue to deliver equitable education curriculum to all students in the event that the school should need to close due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

This executive order also directed schools to continue providing breakfast and lunch to our students — as well as provide daycare to school aged children of Tier 1 employees (teachers, health care workers, first responders and other emergency workers) who attend school in our district — during the same time period used for distance learning planning. Although the numbers of students participating in the food service and daycare programs have been fluctuating, we are proud to utilize our facilities and have people in place to provide these services to those who need them.

Since the enactment of that executive order, staff and administration at ISD 518 have been working diligently to develop distance learning plans. Due to the unusual nature of these new requirements, some staff members have needed to step out of their comfort zone and, in some cases, perform duties completely different from what they normally perform. The members of the school board recognize and appreciate that during this uncomfortable time, the professionalism and dedication of our staff and administration have been clearly evident as they have gone above and beyond to achieve their goal. The commitment of these individuals is commendable, and the willingness to do their part, and more, is setting an excellent example to the young people of this community.

The residents of ISD 518 should be proud of the people we have working within the district. All District 518 staff are doing everything they can to make sure our students continue to receive the highest quality education that we can possibly provide, under the circumstances, unlike the students in some of our neighboring states who are receiving no educational instruction during their period of closure. Whether you agree with the Governor’s Executive Order or not, it does not take away from the effort and dedication put forth by everyone within ISD 518. Please join your school board in thanking all teachers, administrators and staff on a job well done, and continue to support them through the rest of the school year as they continue to do what they have dedicated their lives to, educate and care for the students of our district.

Editor's note: The District 518 Board of Education is comprised of Brad Shaffer (chair), Lori Dudley (vice chair), Linden Olson (treasurer), Steve Schnieder (clerk), Adam Blume, Mike Harberts and Joel Lorenz.