On Monday, July 20 the Langdon Area School board met with a discussion on future plans for the 2020-21 school year in relation to Covid-19 related closures. While the board expressed interest in a goal to open school grounds to face-to-face learning, a decision has yet to form. This interest is with an understanding that there is a possibility the school may need to return to a level of distance learning due to the Covid-19 epidemic. Staff and student safety is their primary concern. One aspect hindering a clear decision is found in the way the state sets risk assessment for Covid-19 cases. Currently, Governor Burgum measures risk levels statewide, as opposed to a county level assessment. As of July 20, the state of North Dakota is rated at a risk level green or low level risk. Whereas individual counties, such as Cavalier County, are unofficially at a higher risk level due to active cases in ratio to population density. The school would prefer a more local, county-based classification for risk level. It is believed this would grant more control in choosing teaching methods as risk levels rise and fall. Under the current statewide model, a spike in a higher population density county could trigger statewide closures. It is a concern that this would force the closure of school grounds regardless of our county's unique situation. Furthermore, if Cavalier County saw a surge in Covid-19 cases, while the rest of the state remained low, we may be inaccurately labeled at a state advised low risk assessment. Migrating to a county by county assessment may eliminate this issue. The school and county Health office have addressed this concern with the state and hope for clarification soon. While the board waits for further developments, a return to school survey has been distributed by the school to parents, students, and staff. The purpose of this survey is to gauge community sentiment in relation to the school's pending decision. Resulting data will be presented to the board in hopes of aiding their discussion when they reconvene Monday, August 3 at 5:00 p.m.
With this stated, the school has been busy preparing for both the upcoming school year and the implementation of a STEAM summer camp. High school superintendent Daren Christianson reported that teaching staff is complete for the 2020-21 school year. A general education paraprofessional has also been approved. In addition to this, the school will be advertising for substitute janitors, cooks, and potentially teachers to support staffing levels in the event of Covid-19 related illness. Also of note, per an audit of the hot lunch cost basis, the board has approved a rise in meal costs. While the performance of the program may be affected by the Covid-19 epidemic, it is believed that this increase should eliminate the need for the school to continue supplementation of the program. This increase will also bring the school to just under the statewide average cost of meals. Increases will result in elementary school lunches being set at $1.80 for breakfast and $2.70 for lunch, while high school cost levels will reflect $2.30 for breakfast and $2.70 for lunch.
Elementary school principal Todd Hetler reported on the upcoming Summer STEAM Camp. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. This program focuses on implementing courses in each of these areas. The program includes STEM certified science and technology activities and will officially take place this summer starting August 3rd. The camp is open to Langdon Area Elementary School and Saint Alphonsus School students entering Kindergarten through 6th grade for the 2020-21 school year. The camp will last for two weeks, Monday through Thursday from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM. Registration began July 21st. Hetler stated they will be using rules from previous school-related activities for a social distancing framework. This would include 6 ft. physical distancing, the presence of masks, and smaller manageable groups of 10-15 individuals. Currently, three teachers have been selected to instruct the groups.
Finally, the board carried out an election of new officers. They chose to appoint Chris Olson as President, with Dave Hart being selected as Vice President. Other positions assigned were Daren Christianson as the federal/state and local representative and Todd Hetler as the representative for consolidated application.
In addition to these appointments the board designated various official entities to deal with the school. In no specific order, banks approved as school depositories were FM Bank, Horizon Financial, and Choice Bank. Mortenson and Rygh was chosen to continue as the school's official auditing firm. The Cavalier County Republican was, again, designated as the official paper. Board meetings will continue to be held the 3rd Monday of every month at 7:00 p.m. in the high school board room.