President/Principal of Faribault Bethlehem Academy Mindy Reeder joined KDHL AM Minnesota today to discuss their plans for the start of school.  Bethlehem Academy opens September 1.

Reeder pointed out families have also been given the option to keep their kids home if they prefer.  Less than 10 students will be distance learning to start the school year.

Reeder says, "Our staff and our teachers have been working all summer long planning for what it will look like as we return to campus this fall."

I asked the new BA President/Principal what would cause the school to return entirely to distance learning.  Her response, "It's going to be dependent on the county and the state and what's happening in our county specifically. What is happening in our state and if there's any protocols with regards to that."

Reeder adds, "The reason we're returning to in-person as are all the Faribault public and private charter elementary schools is we are smaller like the elementary schools and we can set up our classrooms differently. So when we talked with the county and we evaluated that and our Board looked at that.  Our county has a lower rating.  I think right now our rating which isn't going to mean that much to most people is at 10.6."

Parents will be asked to check the temperatures of their kids before sending them to school.  Masks will be required by students and staff.

"We have about 230 students in a large school building.  I wish we were bigger but in a year like this it is a blessing that we can return to campus.  We're spacing out desks, we're planning a lot of different procedures, cleaning, helping students get ready for wearing a mask.  Doing group lessons and outdoor learning as much as possible.  We want to engage our students in person but if someone needs to learn online or wanting to learn online we are also doing that at the same time."

Reeder expanded on the outdoor learning component they are encouraging teachers to do, "One of the things we know that is air flow is really important and so we are wearing masks with classroom windows being open.  We've also actually scheduled green space outside. So our teachers can schedule a green space. Take their students out whether it's reading , exploring or doing a hands on project. We have a new greenhouse that's just went up so there's a lot of opportunities to get outside and do our learning."

The first year BA President/Principal added, "Band and singing have begun, spaced out you know 12 feet.  To do that outside so that's one of the great things about fall.  Now this winter that might get a little chilly."

Reeder emphasized confidence in the plans they've put in place to start the 2020-21 school year at the Catholic parochial school.  They do have a van that's travelling around the area picking up students whose families want to get some faith based education.