Superintendent Update Sept 2020 Transcript

Last Updated: 9/25/2020 7:31 PM

(Video begins with a maroon slide. Two talking cartoon bubbles appear. One displays the MSA logo, and the other has the words "Minnesota State Academies." The main title states "Superintendent Update, September 2020.")


(Terry appears onscreen. He is standing outdoors on the Tate Hall front porch. Behind him several trees are visible, some are showing colorful foliage. Terry is wearing a maroon business shirt and tie, and is sporting a matching maroon mask. He takes off his mask and begins signing to the camera. NOTE: for all of the remaining video segments, Terry is wearing a mask while he is signing.)


Terry: Good morning, everyone. This is Terry Wilding speaking. I'm standing in front of the Tate Hall offices and the purpose of this video: I wanted to show you around our campuses to show those extra safety precautions that we've established over the summer and during the fall. So I'll show you what those changes have been. It's a beautiful fall day. I hope you enjoy the video.


(Video fades to Terry in the MSAD cafeteria. He’s standing next to a table with two chairs. On the table is a large clear plexiglass divider. Behind him on the wall is a bulletin board decorated with various colors. The board says “Welcome back! We missed you!”)


Terry: And here is an example of some of the changes that we've made in our cafeteria -- in our dining space. I'm here in the deaf school dining hall, and here we have a plexiglas barrier set up on the table between two students. (Terry points to the divider)


This barrier is to help protect our students while they cannot wear a mask while they're eating. We also have assigned seating in the cafeteria and we'll give you a show of what our cafeteria looks like and the markings that we've made on the floor to keep students six feet apart. They also enter the cafeteria and exit the cafeteria through different doors, and this is all to keep our students and staff safe.


(Video fades to the lunch line. The camera pans across the cafeteria, showing a retractable belt barrier -- that helps form lines -- and yellow floor stickers marking distances of six feet each. The distance stickers are applied on the floor and extends all the way to the entrance to the cafeteria.)


(Video fades to Terry standing outside the side of Tate Hall. Behind him on the grassy area is a large group of students and staff standing apart from each other, all participating in warm up exercises.)


Terry: Sometimes we want to make sure that students have some break time to get outdoors and stretch, so we have different activities throughout the school day. Here we have our upper elementary students doing some morning activities to warm up for the day.


And we try to put some activities outside to make sure we have a balance of time indoors and outdoors. Also, sometimes students need a mask break, so we let them take their mask off outside if they're away from others.


(Video fades to a different angle of the same group. A teacher and a student are leading the warm up exercises.  All of them have their arms outstretched and are spinning around. The MSAD Lauritsen gym is visible in the background.)


(Video fades to Terry standing outside of Noyes Hall, in the parking spaces. Next to him is a wooden temporary sign stating “Bus Loading Zone Only.” Behind him is a handicapped parking sign.)


Terry: Now I'm standing in front of Noyes Hall, and this is just one of the examples of the changes we've made to the bus loading zone and the drop off zone. Before, our drop-off zone was limited so we've reserved some parking spaces to be used as the loading zone. And we asked that parents and buses ask before letting the kids off the vehicles, keep the kids in the vehicles so we can do the screening and then they're free to go into any of the school buildings.

So this loading zone is used for a parent drop-off and for bus drop off, and it's improving the flow of students as they enter school for the day.


(Video fades to Terry standing in the Petra Howard Auditorium, on the floor in front of the stage. The stage curtains are partially closed. Terry is standing next to a table and a chair. On the table is a tub of sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer. A large easel in the background is displaying a sign that says “STOP” and lists various symptoms associated with COVID-19. In the forefront, retractable belt line queue stands are visible.)


Terry: Now I'm in PHA, and this is just one of the examples of our screening areas. Once students arrive at school, this is where they will come after they've been screened at home. We have a second-level screening here at school. And we have lines that they stand in six feet apart, and they come to this table where their temperature is checked. And we also go through different symptoms. If everything is good, they can be sent to their classroom. If we do have concerns, we might move them into a waiting area where we check their temperature again and make further decisions if they're okay to go to school, or if they should go home to get healthy. We're trying to reduce any spread of any sickness here at school.


(Video fades to a panning shot of the PHA, with queue stands and floor distance stickers.)


(Video fades to Terry standing in the Quinn Hall front office. He’s standing next to the secretary’s desk, which is enclosed inside a plexiglass barrier.)


Terry: Now I'm here in the Quinn Hall secretary's office, or the front office.  The purpose of this is just to show those people that do work in those high traffic areas, such as our secretary -- we've established these plexiglass divider to keep our staff and students safe. We've set them up in the library, in different places, where there is high traffic of people. We're trying to keep everybody safe here on campus. This is just one example of something that we've added to keep our students and staff safe.


(Video fades to Terry standing in the main hallway of the Lysen building at MSAB. He’s standing next to a portable handwashing station, which consists of a sink, soap dispenser, and paper towel dispenser. In between the soap dispenser and the paper towel dispenser is a sign showing the proper way to wash hands.)


Terry: Here I'm at the blind school entrance, and I just wanted to show you an example of one of our hand washing stations that we've set up across both campuses. Our power plant staff actually made these portable hand washing stations at each entrance. Some entrances do not have a restroom available, so we added extra hand washing stations that looks like this: with a sink, soap dispenser, paper towel dispenser, where students can wash their hands every time they enter the school building or periodically throughout the day. It's very nice and we've put them in different locations on both campuses.


(Video fades to Terry standing in a MSAB hallway. Behind him are two double doors that lead to outdoors.)


Terry: That was another example of something else we're doing. We have an ionization spray that kills viruses and bacteria -- sprayed at different points throughout the day. We have our power plant staff spraying classrooms, bathrooms -- any of those high contact areas -- to make sure those viruses and bacteria are killed. This ionization spray is safe for students and staff. There's no harm at all. And we do that at different points throughout the day, spraying certain areas of our school to make sure our school is clean and sanitized throughout the day.


(Video fades to a power plant staff member -- wearing a mask -- spraying down the door handles, push bars, railing and other high-contact surfaces with an ionization machine.) 


(Video fades to Terry standing in a hallway with a MSAB SEPA. They’re standing in front of a bulletin board decorated for Halloween season. Two witches, both wearing masks, are displayed on the bulletin board, stirring a cauldron full of scary things.  The bulletin board text says “What’s Brewing - Happy Halloween.”  Terry is standing apart from the SEPA, who is wearing a long-sleeved gown, a face shield and a face mask.)


Terry: And I also just wanted to show you another safety precaution that we're taking for our staff and students. Here we have one of our SEPAs wearing a gown, a shield, and a face mask. Sometimes that -- when we have staff working closely with students, such as feeding or doing different needs, we will provide special PPE equipment to make sure our students and staff are safe. Here we have a gown, a shield, and a face mask (Terry gestures towards the SEPA).


(Video fades to Terry standing in front of the entrance to Kramer Hall at MSAB. A sanitizer dispenser is visible on the wall next to the door.)


Terry: I'm here in front of Kramer Hall at the blind school. Just to talk a little bit about what changes have occurred in the dorm. All students will have their own room -- they will not have a roommate. And we try to keep students within their own pods. We make sure our students stay separate, and our after school programming we -- again, we try to do as much social distancing as possible to keep our students safe. When students are in their dorm room alone, they do not need to wear a mask. When they're out in a social area, then they do need to wear a mask. That's usually what happens after school.


(Video fades to Terry standing in a hallway just outside of a MSAB classroom. In the classroom background, staff and students are visible). 


Terry: I'm here outside Scott Berglund's classroom, where I'll step in and we'll get an idea of what the morning meeting is like in their pod, as they share time together and news and updates. It's a good opportunity for social -- opportunity for those students who are not here and they're still in distance learning. And where we still have some students here, it's nice to get that connection for students.


(Video fades to the classroom interior. Mr. Berglund is wearing a face shield, and is strumming a guitar in front of a computer webcam. The other staff and students are visible in the background, all seated a distance from each other.  An ASL interpreter is seated next to Mr. Berglund’s desk, interpreting the song. The camera pans across the classroom, showing the staff, students, interpreters and Terry listening to/watching Mr. Berglund.)


Mr. Berglund (singing): Hi Dakota


He's waving to me good I see the sun shining on Aubrey


Hey there Aubrey I saw that Aubrey


(Video fades to Terry standing outdoors in front of the MSAB playground.)


Terry: And that wraps up our tour of both our campuses. We hope you have gotten an idea of the changes that we've made to keep our students and staff safe. And we will continue to monitor our safety plan and make updates if needed. If a new area is needed, of course, we will continue to make improvements and we will communicate those with you.


And we do want to caution visitors... we don't encourage visitors on campus. However, if you need to come pick up your child, you need to contact someone on campus -- please let us know first so we can make arrangements before you come on campus. We want to make sure

that everyone follows our screening procedure.

If you're not sure, you can look on our website where our health and safety plan is listed and it goes into further detail on our health and safety plan.


For quite some time, we've had a few pods on campus and pods are small groups of students. We're trying to keep students separated with their own designated staff members. This makes contact tracing easier. If that were to happen, we can keep it contained to small groups. We've already brought back some pods to campus this week, and we will continue to bring back more pods as time goes on. We're looking at the next date as October 19th when we will bring back several more pods. The next date after that would be November 2nd when more pods would return, and hopefully after that, all students would return to campus. Of course, there are still some students who would prefer to remain in distance learning for various reasons. We will give you more details -- to parents and families -- as time goes on in a different email, distinguishing which pod will return to campus at that time.


As we know, this doesn't mean that things are set in stone. Things are changing rapidly, and of course our plan may change as well. And we will be sure to communicate any updates to our plan with all of you.


Lastly, I did want to give an update from our board and the work that we've been doing for quite some time. We had a retreat over the summer, where we talked about different goals -- that we'd like to set goals for the board, as well as goals for each department and school.


Our two primary focuses this year and the goals that we have is assessing our programming and the work that we do, and our work on anti-racism and anti-bias. We will have different trainings as the year goes on, and different group work to look at this, and take a closer look at that in our instruction practices to make sure we're doing what we need to do to help students thrive, and accept diversity and support each other. That's our first.


Our second goal is to look at our student achievement. With all these changes that have been going on, with distance learning, a hybrid programming, some students on campus -- we want to make sure that our students are continuing to learn so we'll work with teachers to make improvements on our IEPs and academic tracking to make sure we're making progress and we're meeting statewide standards.


Also, we will continue to work on our strategic plan as this is year three of our five-year strategic plan. We will continue to review and update our goals and make progress on our strategic plan. We have different work groups, different student groups. We also have groups like site council, different groups that will give us feedback as we can review and update our goals this year. As they are updated, that will be shared with you throughout different forums where we can gather different stakeholders. And people are more than welcome to share their feedback for the next two to three years.


Thank you, everybody, for watching. Have a great fall, and I'm hopeful to see you soon sometime.


(Video fades to a maroon slide with the MSA logo. Video fades to black.)