Cedar Mountain starts 2020-21 academic year

Troy Krause
Kelvin Landherr, Cedar Mountain School District band teacher, and students are wearing masks to school each day.

Students in the Cedar Mountain School District have been in school as part of the 2020-21 academic year for more than a week.

According to Rob Brandl, school superintendent, who talked about the school year late last week, things have been going well in the first few days of the new year.

Like many schools, Cedar Mountain wondered how things would go as the year began, especially in light of the fact that it had to make a late change in its program.

While the school district initially planned for a full return for all students that changed.

The Cedar Mountain school district is operating under a hybrid model to start the year.

According to Brandl, one of the challenges the school district faces is that its students come from three different counties – Redwood, Renville and Brown – and that means the school needs to stay in communication with officials from each of those counties related to the number of COVID-19 cases.

Under the current plan at Cedar Mountain, students at the elementary-school level are at school every day.

“We think that is important for our students,” said Brandl.

The older students spend half of their time in school and half at home, he added.

“We want to make the school year as seamless as possible,” said Brandl.

Brandl said the school district worked on three different scenarios in advance of the school year – in person, hybrid and distance learning – adding they were confident that things were ready whatever way the year was going to start.

Brandl added the school district will continue to communicate with county officials and has a plan in place should the district, after a review, opt to make a change in its model.

“We’ve had a great first week,” said Brandl, adding things have been going smoothly.

While the staff is focused on making sure everything from the transportation to the food service are running effectively, Brandl said the priority is making sure everyone in the Franklin and Morgan buildings are safe.

“That is what is most important,” he added.

Another big change for middle-school and high-school students is that Cedar Mountain has moved to a block schedule this year with four periods per day. Brandl said the decision to make the change was made, as the staff felt having longer classes during the day would allow for more hands-on learning opportunities for students.

Offering interventions is important, especially this year, said Brandl, as the staff works with students to determine where they are academically after finishing the 2019-20 school year with a distance learning model followed by summer.

Cedar Mountain has students participating in cross country this fall, and the fall practices for football and volleyball are under way.

The school district has added two new staff, Kylie Lessman, who is the new agriculture education teacher, and Lexi Amundson, who is the new high-school science teacher.

“They both are great additions to the staff," said Brandl.

No one knows for sure what the 2020-21 school year will look like by the time it is over, but Brandl is confident they are ready to offer what students need to learn.

– Submitted photo