Spring 2021 Information
- First Day of School Checklist
- New Teachers
- School Hours
- Classroom Placement Letters
- iPad Return Needed-Last Year's K/4 Students
- Kindergarten Families
- One on One Meeting Sign-ups
- School Supplies
- Sample Distance Learning Schedule
- Sample Hybrid Schedule (Kindergarten Only to Start)
- COVID PROCEDURES
- Breakfast & Lunch
- Additional Back-to-School Information
- Tech Support
Classroom placement letters were sent in the mail on Friday, August 28. This is an exciting time of the summer. I know my own children have been checking the mailbox daily since the calendar turned to August, waiting in anticipation for the name of their new teacher. These letters are the first indication of our new beginnings and the start of a great school year. I know that some students (and even some parents) may have their hearts set on a particular teacher or having a particular friend in the same classroom. With this in mind, a friendly reminder that a positive attitude from you can be reassuring and make a big difference in how your child navigates his/her feelings about the upcoming school year. Our children are far more adaptable than we think, and if we share a positive outlook, our children will feel assured and more positive themselves.
There are many factors that go into creating class sections including academics, social/emotional needs, student personalities, additional service needs, and more! When our learning model for the fall was approved by the school board, we assigned full time Distance Learning students to the grade level's Distance Learning teacher. We then balanced out the Hybrid students across the remaining grade level teachers, using the criteria above, while also splitting them into Cohort A and Cohort B by last names. The complexity of making class lists in a normal year are great and this year, the complexity was multiplied. We are not able to make changes to class lists, both due to the domino effect changes create, and the limits we have placed upon us in the model for this fall. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.
If your child was in Kindergarten or 4th grade last year, we need their iPads returned as soon as possible. You can return the iPad and charger to ANY District 197 building, as Somerset is not an option due to current construction status. All other students can keep their iPads for this fall. If you do not have a district issued iPad, you will receive one at your one on one meeting.
All parents and students have the opportunity to meet with their child's classroom teacher in a one to one meeting on either September 10, from 12 p.m.-6 p.m. or September 11, from 8:30 a.m. -2 p.m.
Links to sign up to meet with your child's teacher will be sent out by email. Our 1:1 meetings will be outside and social distanced. These meetings will give some information about the first week of school and will also serve as a technology and material pick up to start the school year. If it is raining, we will not have in-person meetings.
ALL students, Kindergarten-4th grade will be issued a school district iPad for the school year.
If you are choosing to attend the meeting virtually, we will need to make other arrangements for pick up of materials prior to September 14.
The following schedule is a sample Distance Learning Schedule. A finalized schedule will be shared by your child's classroom teacher. All Distance Learning classes will be broken up into two groups (A and B).
Distance Learning Sample Schedule
8:30-Morning Meeting Google Meet (Both A & B)
9:00-Literacy Instruction via Google Meet (Group A)/Independent Work via Seesaw (Group B)
9:50-Literacy Instruction via Google Meet(Group B)/Independent Work via Seesaw (Group A)
10:45-Math Instruction via Google Meet(Group A)/Independent Work via Seesaw (Group B)
11:35-Math Instruction via Google Meet(Group B)/Independent Work via Seesaw (Group A)
11:25-Lunch Break & Free Time
1:45-Small Group Instruction via Google Meet (mix of A & B-Daily Schedule TBD)
2:40-Closing Circle Google Meet (Both A & B)
Days at Garlough
-Morning Meeting (joined by both A and B groups daily-either on site or via Google Meet)
-Specialist Area (PE, Music, Art or Spanish)
-Closing Circle (joined by both A and B groups daily-either on site or via Google Meet)
Days at Home
8:30-Morning Meeting via Google Meet
9:00-2:40-Self-Paced Independent Activities posted on Seesaw
-may include some individual or small group instruction from classroom teacher on Wednesday
2:40-Closing Circle via Google Meet
All students and staff in ISD 197 will be required to wear face masks when inside of the school building and while riding the school buses. Masks may be removed while outside when social distancing of 6 ft. or more is in effect and while eating or drinking indoors. We will spend the first few weeks of students being on site to review and practice these expectations.
Parent Drop-off Procedures
As part of our Covid-19 mitigation efforts, parents driving their children to school at GEMS must remain in the car for both drop off and pick up. Please do not park your car and approach the school to drop off or pick up your child during our arrival and dismissal times.
Drop-Off: Parents will enter the parent loop from the south driveway. Follow the lane around to the sidewalk, once you are safely parked next to the curb, your child may hop out of the car and follow the sidewalk down to the main entrance. There will be several GEMS staff members assisting with parent drop off and greeting students as they enter the building. Parents, please create a drop off routine with your child that does not involve you getting out of your car. Consider giving that last tight hug at home, BEFORE you get in the car. In addition, to help with the flow of traffic, it would be helpful to all families to ONLY turn RIGHT out of the parking lot.\
Pick-Up: Enter the parking lot and follow the parent pick up lane along the sidewalk. We will have students stationed 6 ft. apart as they wait for their rides. Once we know how many students will be picked up, students will be assigned to stand at a letter (newly painted, 6 feet apart) and notify parents of the assigned letter.
Students riding the bus to school must wear a masks while riding the bus. Hand sanitizer will also be placed on all busses. Upon arrival at school, all students will remain on the bus until they have been dismissed by a GEMS staff member. We will space out the dismissal of busses to help with social distancing. Students will enter different doors depending on grade level to accommodate social distancing.
Transportation Information & Bus Route Times will be sent to your address we have on file. If you are unsure if you have registered for transportation and would like your children to ride the bus, please call Transportation at 651-403-8320.
Breakfast and Lunch will be consumed in classrooms this school year, with the exception of kindergarten when they are the only students in the school.
Depending on the grade level, lunches will be delivered to the classroom OR students will walk with their class to the cafeteria to pick up their lunches and return to their classrooms.
We will not be able to have the fruit and vegetable bar this school year. Instead, fruits and vegetables will be pre-packaged for students. There will still be both a hot lunch and sandwich options for students each day.
We will also have a touch-free checkout system, so students will not use the keypad to type in their lunch PINs.
Curbside Pick-up will be available to families on the days their children are home for Distance Learning. More information regarding curbside meal pick-up will be shared soon.
Please visit the Child Nutrition website for more information on setting up a lunch account, signing up for free/reduced priced meals, and more!
Students in the Hybrid model will receive 30 minutes of outdoor recess each day. Our recess area is broken up into sections. Each class cohort will be assigned to a certain section of the playground, which will rotate on a daily basis.
Students will not be required to wear masks while outside at recess. We will have recess paraprofessionals supervising recess and helping to teach students to remain social distanced while outdoors. There will be one para outside assigned to each cohort of students.
Each Hybrid student will be assigned their own locker to use while at GEMS. Our lockers for Hybrid group A and Hybrid group B will alternate, allowing for social distancing while at lockers. There will be no sharing of lockers.
Covid Case Notification
When notified of a confirmed case of COVID-19 involving staff or children, we will follow the guidance of the Minnesota Department of Health. Their team will complete contact tracing and determine any exposure through close contact (anyone who was within 6 feet of the person who is sick while they were considered to be infectious, for 15 minutes or more, regardless of whether either person wore a cloth face covering or face shield). The individual with the confirmed case will be isolated at home for at least 10 days, and for 24 hours with no fever (without fever-reducing medicine) and improvement of respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) whichever is longer. Anyone with close contact (as defined above) will be guided to stay home for at least 14 days and monitor for symptoms.
Students in school who are demonstrating symptoms (fever of 100.4+, severe headache, sore throat, uncontrolled coughing that causes difficulty breathing, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, loss of smell or taste) will be assessed by the school nurse and directed to the “Special Care Zone," an isolated area, until being picked up; the parent/guardian will contact the office upon arrival; the school nurse or designee, wearing personal protective equipment, will escort the student to the car and strongly encourage testing for COVID-19.
Free meals are now available to all children in School District 197 (ages 1-18). The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced it will waive all fees for school meals through December 31, 2020 (or earlier if funding runs out). This is an extension of the summer meals program that provided meals to families throughout distance learning last spring and into the summer. For more information, click here.
How will my student get their free meals?
When learning in-person at school, breakfast and lunch will be available at no cost to students. Students may purchase a carton of milk for $0.50 to go with a breakfast or lunch brought from home, as milk by itself is not free. When learning at home (either as part of hybrid learning or full-time distance learning), a free breakfast and lunch bundle will be available for families to pick up between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. at every School District 197 school. Free meals will only be provided for scheduled school days. Meals will not be provided on holidays or scheduled days off. Breakfast and lunch menus are available on the district website. The menus apply to meals served in school and picked up curbside.
Please hang onto the barcoded PIN card you recently received in the U.S. Mail. Students will need these once schools resume normal breakfast and lunch service.
What are the benefits of school meals?
School meals offer students:
- Age-appropriate calorie limits and portion sizes
- Daily servings of fresh fruits and vegetables (Note: all students must take at least one 1/2 cup serving of fruit/vegetables with their lunch meal and at least 1/2 cup juice or fruit with their breakfast meal)
- White or flavored fat-free milk or 1% white milk
- Whole grain breads, pastas, and grains
- Lean proteins from meat and non-meat sources
- Options with reduced sodium and limited saturated fats
Do I still need to fill out a Free & Reduced Application (FRP) form
Even though meals are free for the first few months of school, you still need to fill out your Free & Reduced Application form. This ensures you’ll have help paying for meals after December 31 (or earlier if funding runs out), and also helps you cover costs for other school-related activities. In addition, it grants our district access to state funding to support our schools. Complete the 2020-2021 Free & Reduced Meal Application online here or request one by calling 651-403-7320.
Please Note: Families MUST fill out a new application for benefits at the beginning of each school year or benefits will expire on October 22, 2020.