In about eight days educators have turned education on its head according to Owatonna Superintendent Jeff Elstad. Teachers are instructing their students through distance learning on a directive from Governor Walz and the Minnesota Department of Education. Elstad has referred to it as building an airplane while in the air. He also said things are going well through its first few days.

He said there have been some glitches including problems with Schoology, which is an online platform used by many districts, but overall things have gone well. Elstad said guidance counselors and social workers are available when needed. He adds that the food distribution has been well received. By Friday, April 3 the Owatonna district will have handed out 7,000 free meals. Elstad stresses these are free to all students up to age 18 and there is no need to register in advance.

Elstad gives some initial thoughts on the start of distance learning which began on March 30 after less than two weeks for teachers and districts to prepare:

Elstad says teaching has evolved over the years, leaving lectures as a component of the past:

He adds that snow days may also become history, as distance learning is showing that lessons can be held without being in a building:

Elstad says guidance counselors and social workers are still available as needed:

Some other relative information is available through the Owatonna Public School District Website.

Emergency childcare is offered at McKinley School.

Food service is available free of charge on a pick-up/drive-through basis.

Read more about distance learning.

Find general information about COVID-19.