During an emergency meeting of the school board on Sunday, March 15, the Montevideo School District decided to temporarily suspend all classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Luther Heller, Superintendent of the Montevideo School District, said: “Right now, the school district is closed from March 18 through March 27. During this time, the district will be working on a comprehensive plan for distance learning.”

During an emergency meeting of the school board on Sunday, March 15, the Montevideo School District decided to temporarily suspend all classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Luther Heller, Superintendent of the Montevideo School District, said: “Right now, the school district is closed from March 18 through March 27. During this time, the district will be working on a comprehensive plan for distance learning.”

A plan for distance learning would allow for the continuing education of students. “A distance learning plan is different from the E-learning plan which we implement on snow days,” said Dr. Heller. “Distance learning is a long-term plan. We are supposed to have a plan in place as early as Monday, March 30.”

The district has its work cut out for them. The effort will involve teachers, students, and families to ensure that education can continue outside of schools for an extended period of time. Dr. Heller said: “If we are told that schools need to be closed for a longer period of time because the virus is here, then we need to be ready with a plan stating how we will deliver education.”

Until at least next Friday, March 27, the district will not be providing any educational services to its students. “For the kids,” said Dr. Heller, “it’s kind of like a vacation, but they can’t do much because of the current recommendations regarding travel and social distancing.”

The school district is, however, providing meals for students. Dr. Heller said: “On Tuesday, we began handing out meals on a pick-up basis. Meals can be picked up at the middle school front door by the Superintendent’s Office, as well as the Ramsey Elementary east parking lot doors.”

The meals are free for anyone 18 years of age or younger. “When people pick the meals up, they’ll actually get two meals; a lunch and a breakfast. Meals can be picked up Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.,” said Dr. Heller.

“Whenever the school closes, the district is directed to provide meals and address daycare,” explained Dr. Heller. “I anticipate that our delivery of meals will expand in the near future.”

There has been some concern expressed by community members about some families’ ability to drive to the meal pick-up sites. “We probably will be doing some delivery of meals, but exactly how that will look remains to be seen,” Dr. Heller said.

Daycare is the other issue facing the school district. Dr. Heller said: “Right now, our daycare is open and the children that have been utilizing the program are currently receiving services. We also have to provide services to all essential community personnel, which includes first responders, law enforcement, healthcare, and educators. Those groups of people who have children ages 12 and under are eligible for the daycare services provided by the district.

“That being said,” continued Dr. Heller, “The district has been informed that keeping the daycare open for everyone is something that could possibly change as more guidelines come in. A week ago, we were told to have no more than 25 kids in a room; now it is recommended to have no more than 10. That will tax our ability to provide daycare for essential personnel.”

Dr. Heller cautions the public about the flow of information during this time. “Whenever we put information out, we remind people that this is a very fluid situation and what we are telling you today may not be what we tell you tomorrow.”