Distance learning was a challenge. I have talked to students, parents, and teachers over the last few weeks. Students missed their friends and school activities. Parents had the burden of being a part-time (or full-time) home-school teacher, especially those with younger elementary children. Teachers had to tackle technology and get their message through without being face-to-face.

Despite the hurdles and obstacles, Owatonna schools got good rankings in a survey of elementary parents, according to the June edition of the school e-newsletter. The newsletter states, "While Owatonna Public School staff had only a few days to set up a distance learning system in March in response to the coronavirus pandemic, elementary parents have been very satisfied with how distance learning worked for their children."

The newsletter provided poll results to a series of questions.

  • Teachers respond to questions/concerns within reasonable time, 98%
  • Easy to reach teacher with a question, 97%
  • Child has access to materials, 94%
  • Child understands what is expected of them, 86%
  • Amount of work assigned each day is just right, 81%
  • Child has felt connected with classmates/teacher through online meetings, 77%
  • Child felt confident navigating Google classroom (with some help) 76%

The newsletter goes on to indicate, "There were definitely concerns and hiccups shared by some parents, especially for parents juggling their own work and the child's work...Many thanks to the nearly 600 elementary school parents who responded to the survey."

The Minnesota Department of Education is soliciting public input on how school should look in the fall. Go here for more details and a link to the survey.

The newsletter also announced the summer food program in Owatonna. Children 18 and younger eat free. No need to sign-up or register. Meal bundles are available 11:30 am to 12:30 pm Monday through Thursday through August 6 at McKinley Elementary at 1050 22nd Street NE, Owatonna Middle School at 500 15th Street NE, and the Owatonna Public Library at 105 N Elm Ave. Adults may purchase a meal bundle for $7. Exact change is required.