Dear Nerstrand Families,
At the August 30th Nerstrand Board of Directors Special meeting it was decided by vote that should Faribault School District move to a mask mandate, Nerstrand School would follow this mandate. At a special meeting on Monday, Sept. 20, the Faribault Public Schools board voted to approve that the district follow the Center for Disease Control's recommendation to require indoor masking in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under these new guidelines beginning Friday, September 24th, face coverings will be required for all students (5 and older) and staff at Nerstrand School until the Rice County COVID-19 case rate falls to below 50 cases per 100,000 residents. The current Rice County case rate is 261.
The following face coverings are acceptable: paper or disposable masks, cloth face mask, scarf, neck gaiter, bandana, and medical-grade masks and respirators. Those requesting a religious or medical exemption can contact the office via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
The CDC's masking recommendation is supported by Rice County Public Health and Mayo Clinic. Additionally, nearly 70 local doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants have endorsed indoor masking as a way to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
In addition to reviewing information provided by public health experts, the Faribault School Board and the Nerstrand ICT team has also monitored situations in other school districts without masking requirements where outbreaks forced large numbers of students to go into quarantine. By following the CDC's masking recommendation, the Nerstrand Board of Directors and Nerstrand ICT Team hopes Nerstrand Public Charter School can avoid any disruptions to learning, and keep students and staff safe, healthy, and in the classroom.
Our COVID-19 protocols page has been updated with more detail. Please review.
It is exciting to be reaching the end of this very challenging school year. We feel hopeful for the fall and getting back to a more normal structure to our school.
This year we went into grade level classrooms because of covid, but we believe in and will go back to multi-age classrooms. Although kindergarten and grade 1 are self-contained, Grades 2 & 3 and Grades 4 & 5 will be combined in their classrooms. This year reinforced our feelings about multi-age and giving all our students access to friendships and learning across grade levels. We also plan on having Homeroom again, which will be a mix of grades K-5, 3 days a week. Homeroom is a time where we work on projects (blankets for a NIC Unit, delivering May baskets, etc) and we also build school communities by having all ages work together.
Jake has begun meeting with 4th graders to recruit new band members. 5th grade Band is a chance for all of our 5th graders to learn an instrument. We are proud that although District 656 does not offer band to 5th graders, Nerstrand School does. Thank you to Jake Kaukola for continuing with band lessons even during Covid! We will also continue to have PE everyday for all of our students, which is not true of many schools across Faribault. Thank you to Carmen Bonde for working hard to follow guidelines during covid (cleaning equipment between PE sessions, following guidelines with fidelity throughout this year).
Some of the many highlights that we will be bringing back in the fall are the following:
- Prairie Appreciation Day
- Discovery Day
- Faribault Homecoming Assembly
- Halloween Parade
- Community Lunch
- Classroom Field Trips for each of our 3 sections; Prairie (K-1-Children's Museum), Savannah (2-3 TBD)
- Winter Concert and PJ Day
- WOLFRIDGE trip for 5th graders and 4th grade field trip to Ramsey House/Hill House
- School Carnival
- Children's play at the Faribault High School
- Sock Hop
- All School Field Trip to the Minnesota History Museum
- All school field Day
- Community Lunch
- 5th grade field day
- Community Celebration
- Outdoor Band Concert
- May Day delivery
- School led Committees: Peace Garden, Ambassadors, Learn & Serve, School Spirit, Behavior Playground Committee, Spotlight (with visitors), Spotlight Lunches, Riverbend trips
Finally, teachers are excited and relieved to be able to teach in classrooms where students can work and learn together. There are many special traditions and projects that teachers plan over the year that had to be changed for covid. I am grateful to all of our teachers for the way they worked to adapt their lessons to covid guidelines and put so much effort into supporting children and families during this time. They became online teachers overnight and learned how to navigate learning management systems that in a typical year we would take hours of professional development training to master.
We also have wonderful paras that have supported students and teachers throughout this year in so many ways. Whether it was through childcare, one to one meetings with students, or helping to put together Distance Learning packets. We are fortunate to have so many dedicated paraprofessionals.
Our wonderful custodian, Mike Erickson worked tirelessly to keep up on the added cleaning protocols and keeping us up to date on expectations in the Faribault School District.
I will be forever thankful for our ICT Team this year; Barb Grote, Andrew Lubinski and Carmen Bonde. They kept current on mountains of weekly, sometimes daily, emails with safety guidelines for staff and students. They were key in our ability to avoid a covid outbreak. This year was a group effort on the part of our entire staff.
I know that our families have faced many challenges this year. Parents, guardians, grandparents were thrown into being homeschool teachers overnight, while still working. Other families may have lost jobs over this year and worked so very hard to keep their children learning in super challenging situations. Thank you to all of our families for your support over this past year.
We look forward to many new families joining us, as well as returning families to our Nerstrand Community next fall.
Happy Memorial weekend everyone. I hope you are able to relax and have time with your families!
On Friday our school spent the day in the Big Woods State Park for our 26th Discovery Day. This traditional day of outdoor learning is one of the highlights of the entire year. Each year we have a theme, this year was migration, and use it as the springboard for each of the 4 activities the students are involved in during the day. It is also a day in which we group children in K-5 "families" so that they learn together according to their intellectual development level. It was a bit of a chilly start, but by the afternoon the sun was out in the park, and the beginning colors of autumn were all around us. It's a wonderful sight to see 149 students in the woods for the entire day!
Another tradition that is rolled into this day, is our annual walk to the park. On Discovery Day grades 1-5 do the walk, but then on the last day of school the kinders join us, and walk the entire way. This 2 mile walk, twice a year, is one of the ways that we mark our time together. That last day walk completes a circle of time that we have spent together and is a symbol of the journey we have taken together as a school community. At a time where more and more students spend time indoors looking at screens, we hold on tightly to traditions that involve physical activity in the outdoors for our students. The physical activity doesn't end with the walk to the park, at the park 3 of the rotations also involve movement. One rotation is to walk to the falls and back, another was the obstacle course and the third physical station was the Migration Headache game. Matthew Keseley and Paula Shroyer led the walk to the falls 4 times on Friday as well as walking to the park with students. They had gotten in just under 20,000 steps by the end of the day! I am always surprised by how energetic our students are the entire day, even with all the movement. Teachers assume that students get a good nights sleep after Discovery Day!
On April 30th, the school community will host the 18th annual ‘Community Celebration of Place: Elders’ Wisdom, Children’s Song,’ beginning at 6:45 p.m. Each year students interview an honored elder community guest and weave stories together into an original song, with lyrics written by students, that is shared at the program. This year community celebration will pay tribute to honoree 91 year old, Pete Keller, a lifelong resident of the area. The celebration also includes 38 elder’s medley’s from previous years, all sung by kindergarten – 5th grade students. The program also entertains the crowd with a community band to start the evening program, with alumni, community members and 5th grade students in the school’s gymnasium. The Community Celebration began at the school in 1998, with a residency at the school, with Larry Long, troubadour, and it has been taking place every year since.
School will be closed due to poor road conditions. Nerstrand Elementary follows the Faribault District closings.
Everyday is an adventure in learning at Nerstrand Elementary School.
Nerstrand Elementary is accepting applications through March 6, for the annual charter school enrollment lottery.
Please call the school office with any questions, or to schedule a tour. Simply click on the 'Apply Now' button on the homepage to complete an enrollment application.
Thank you for your interest in Nerstrand School!