Message from Superintendent Scott Thielman--July 31, 2020
Greetings BHM Families--
As you know, over the course of the last couple of months, we have been diligently working to develop three possible learning models for returning to school this fall (1. In-person learning for all students. 2. Hybrid model with strict social distancing and capacity limits. 3. Distance learning only.)
Yesterday, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz shared the state’s Safe Learning Plan and announced that districts will work closely with their county’s public health experts to determine the direction for schools this fall. Districts have been asked to use the Learning Model Parameters listed in the chart below. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) data, along with the approval from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), will determine the learning model BHM Schools can use in the fall.
Learning Model Parameters
Number of Cases per 10,000 Over 14 Days, by County of Residence
In-person learning for all students
In-person learning for elementary students; hybrid learning for secondary students
Hybrid learning for all students
Hybrid learning for elementary students; distance learning for secondary students
Distance learning for all students
If BHM Schools were to begin tomorrow, based on the COVID-19 activity in our area, and the information from Wright County Public Health (WCPH), BHM Schools would be in the 10-19 case range, where elementary schools would be open to in-person learning and secondary schools (middle and high schools) would follow a hybrid model of learning.
As per the MDH guidelines, the Hybrid Model will utilize strict physical distancing with strict capacity limits. In this planning scenario, schools must limit the overall number of people in school facilities to 50% maximum occupancy with at least six feet between people at all times.
SAMPLE Hybrid Schedule
Students will be scheduled in either Group A or Group B.
Group A – Mondays and Wednesdays - In School
Group A – Tuesdays and Thursdays - At Home Independent Learning
Group B – Tuesdays and Thursdays - In School
Group B – Mondays and Wednesdays - At Home Independent Learning
Alternate Fridays Group A/Group B - In School/At Home Independent Learning
Circumstances will change as this pandemic continues to evolve, and plans are in place to shift between the three learning models, as necessary, at any given time. We will continue to work closely with MDH, MDE and WCPH to monitor our district’s situation to help keep our students and staff safe.
Distance Learning Option
Families who do not feel it is safe for their child(ren) to return to school can choose distance learning. We are using the feedback from the student and parent surveys to improve the distance learning experience from this past spring. Next week, principals will be sending out more information and a Fall 2020 Planning Survey, to ALL BHM families, to determine technology, transportation, meals and other needs for fall.
No matter what learning model we encounter, we are hopeful for a return to the classroom and we are committed to the safety and wellbeing of our students and staff. The state will provide every student and staff member with a cloth mask. Schools will also be supplied with 3 disposable masks per student should a student forget to wear a mask to school. Educators and some school staff will receive face shields, and all staff will receive an at-home COVID-19 test from the state to use as necessary.
Our custodial staff will perform their regular cleaning duties along with the additional cleaning of high-touch surfaces. Entrances will be equipped with hand sanitizing stations. You should also know, in the last seven to ten years, we have updated the air handling units in our buildings which has put us in the best possible position to address the air quality for COVID-19 concerns.
There are many complexities and requirements from the state that will need to be followed as we make decisions on how BHM Schools will deliver the best education possible in the safest environment in this new plan. We understand that these decisions impact every student and every family in multiple ways. The best interests of all students, staff and families are at the center of our planning. Throughout the month of August, you can expect communication from the district and your school principal. Below is an approximate timeline of key communications to our BHM families:
- Fall 2020 Planning Survey--by August 6
- Message from School Principals--by August 6
- Decision/Communication on Learning Model for BHM Schools--by Aug 21
BHM Schools has some of the best families in the state, and we appreciate the support and patience that you have shown us while we deal with this very complicated situation. News and facts about the virus continue to change on a daily basis. We realize that this is a hardship for everyone. We are here for our families and will provide support in any way that we can. In addition to using our parent notification system, information will be added to our website and posted to our Facebook page to keep families and the community informed.
Continue to stay healthy, stay safe and you will hear more from us soon!
Superintendent of BHM Schools
As of Saturday, July 25, 2020, Minnestoans will be required to wear masks in public places. You can read the Executive Order 20-81 from Governor Walz. Children in grades K-12 will be required to wear masks in our school buildings. We are unsure at this time if this Executive Order will extend into the school year. Currently, this mostly affects our KidKare kids, Community Education camp and class participants and BHM staff in our buildings. We know masks are a challenge for all ages, but especially those in the elementary schools. Here are a couple of resources that are good to use with your younger children (and even for some of us "older children").
A Message from Superintendent Scott Thielman--May 1, 2020
The following message was emailed to all of our staff, parents and high school students on Friday, May 1, 2020.
Dear BHM Families--
As you are aware, today and Monday are non-instructional days as designated by Governor Walz and will be used by our teachers for professional development and planning for the remainder of the school year. We want to provide you with some information about what that looks like for BHM Schools.
Last Day of School
The last day of school is Thursday, June 4 and the final day of full class instruction will be on Friday, May 29. Teachers will use the dates of June 1-4 to follow-up with small groups of students or individual students for remedial work, catch-up work, or turning in final assignments. Friday, June 5, will be a teacher workday and the close of the school year. FREE meals will continue to be available for curbside pick-up and neighborhood delivery through Thursday, June 4.
Buffalo Community Middle School, Buffalo High School, Phoenix Learning Center and PRIDE will develop and communicate plans for picking up students’ personal belongings from lockers and gym lockers, along with musical instruments, etc. This will happen over the next couple of weeks. Most elementary students have their belongings, but schools will work with individual families on a case-by-case basis if items need to be retrieved.
End of Year Celebrations and
Turning in Technology/Assignments/School Materials
We know everyone needs some closure to the school year. As we get closer to the end of the year, school administration will determine what is the safest way we can interact with each other. Individual schools will communicate their plans on how they will celebrate the end of the school year along with how technology devices/assignments/textbooks/school materials will be turned in during the week of June 1-4.
Thank you to everyone who has been sharing their ideas for ways we can recognize the Class of 2020. Each year, BHM Schools has four graduation celebrations: Buffalo High School, Phoenix Learning Center, PRIDE Transitions and Adult Basic Education (GED). We are waiting for more guidance from the Governor, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), to determine if we will be able to have any type of in-person ceremony. School administration is working with students and staff to determine how we can best celebrate and best recognize the Class of 2020. This is a major accomplishment and milestone for our students and be assured, we will find a way to celebrate their years of hard work and dedication to their education.
Summer programming is currently being planned with hopes that we will be able to offer learning, recreational and extension activities for our students. BHM Schools usually offer KidKare, targeted services and Summer Sun Block programs in June, July and August. As stated earlier, we are awaiting guidance and direction from MDH and MDE. We will continue to offer the FREE summer meal program in June, July and August to children ages 18 and under and individuals 19 and over with state-defined mental or physical disabilities who participate in school programs. We will communicate more information about what will be offered this summer in the weeks ahead.
BHM Schools is the Place to Dream, Believe and Achieve
We could have never dreamed that BHM Schools would be participating in distance learning for the last two months of the school year. But, we believe our teachers, support staff, administration and families have done an outstanding job during this unprecedented time. We know that our students will achieve great success beyond this health pandemic because of the support systems put in place by our teachers and you, their families. We thank all of you for hanging in there with us and working through this crisis together. Thank YOU for making BHM Schools the place to dream, believe and achieve!
BHM Schools Superintendent
A Message from Superintendent Scott Thielman--April 24, 2020
The following message was emailed to all of our staff, parents and high school students on Friday, April 24, 2020.
Dear BHM Families--
I hope that you are doing well and staying safe during this time. Our schools are terribly quiet and we miss the daily interactions with students and staff.
I’m sure many of you have already heard that Governor Walz announced yesterday that schools will not be back in session for the remainder of the school year and that distance learning will continue. We know this may be a disappointment to many of you, but we also know that we want our students and staff to enter back into our schools when it’s considered safe by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
We continue to receive our guidance from the governor and the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE). As directed, we will have a short break from distance learning on May 1 and 4 while teachers prepare for the remainder of the school year. There will be no instruction on those days. Distance learning will resume on May 5 and will continue through Thursday, June 4.
We truly appreciate the terrific job our teachers and support staff are doing to make the distance learning experience as meaningful as possible. We will continue to ensure that our students master the required state standards and our high school students receive their credits for graduation. During this time, we will need the continued assistance of our parents to monitor their child’s progress. We know that elementary parents are more likely to be hands-on with their child’s work and are able to track their progress daily. Secondary parents are more likely to use the parent portal (application that provides a child’s grades, attendance, schedule, transcripts, etc.) to review and monitor their child’s progress. If you do not have a parent portal account set up, please contact your child’s school to create an account.
We know that many of you have questions such as how to get the remainder of your student’s belongings, how will we celebrate graduation, will there be summer programming and more. Principals will answer those questions and send out future communications as we work through this process.
FREE meals will continue to be provided to children ages 18 and under and individuals 19 and over with state-defined mental or physical disabilities who participate in school programs. Delivery and curbside pick-up will continue to be available. Children will receive a bag lunch for that day and a breakfast for the following day. This program is solely for the pick up of meals and meals are not to be consumed on-site. We encourage families to continue to be proactive in reducing the risk of COVID-19 by not congregating at the school site once meals have been distributed. Children do not need to be present to receive the meals from delivery or curbside pick-up.
Curbside pick-up will be at the front entrance, unless otherwise noted, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the following locations:
- Buffalo Community Middle School
- Hanover Elementary
- Montrose Elementary School of Innovation
- Parkside Elementary (northwest corner of the school--look for signs)
- Northwinds Elementary
If you have questions, please contact Nutrition Services Assistant Allison Barkley at email@example.com.
KidKare childcare is open for full-day care 6 a.m.-6:30 p.m. for all registered families.
FREE childcare for children ages 3-12 will continue to be available for children of emergency and critical workers to the State’s response to COVID-19 during this time. The definition of who those emergency and critical workers are defined under the Governor’s Executive Order 20-19, Care for Children of Families of Emergency Workers.
Please call KidKare Coordinator Lori Trogstad at 763-682-8787 for more information or to register.
BHM Mental Health Resources
Nothing about the past few weeks has been normal and to help families get through this challenging time, we have a BHM Mental Health Resource Guide along with information from Central Minnesota Mental Health Services.
This is a difficult time and we appreciate all of the Facebook posts and emails that so many of you have shared with us. The support from you and the community has been overwhelming. I am proud of all the work that our BHM teachers, staff and administration have done to make all of this happen. While we wish we could be back together to finish out the school year, we know the importance of staying home and staying safe and continuing distance learning from home. Keep up the great work BHM! We have #BHMBisonPride!
BHM Schools Superintendent
A Message From Superintendent Scott Thielman--April 3, 2020
The following message was emailed to all of our staff, parents and high school students on Friday, April 3, 2020.
Hello BHM parents, students and staff--
I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their unparalleled patience, understanding and support! I have been in education for 31 years and like everyone else, I have never had to handle a situation such as this. This is a future history lesson in the making and I can’t thank you enough for the support you’ve shown us through this time.
I also want to thank the incredible staff here at BHM Schools for stepping up to ensure:
- that our schools are clean and sanitized daily for those who have to come in,
- that the children of our emergency and essential workers are being cared for by our staff in a safe, nurturing environment,
- that our students continue to receive a nutritious breakfast and lunch each day (since March 16, we have served approximately 28,000 meals to our BHM children), and
- that our students will continue to receive an education through distance learning. (The district conducted several surveys to determine the needs of our students. BHM Schools is not a one-to-one device district and therefore does not have enough computers for every student. Our technology staff has been able to dismantle computer labs and issue computers to families in need of a device during the distance learning period. To date, we have handed out over 800 devices for students to use at home.)
This is a challenging situation for all of us and I know we can get through this together.
On Monday, April 6, we will begin our distance learning plan. (BHM Distance Learning Plan) Each school principal and teacher has reached out to their students with instructions. I want to thank all of our teachers and support staff for their preparation to ensure they are ready to deliver instruction to our students next week. I have heard there are some parents who are a bit worried about how to balance working from home and helping their children with school assignments. We are not expecting parents to become licensed teachers and we know that you won’t have 6-7 hours to devote to their education like they would get if they were in school.
Teachers have had to refocus on the essential state standards and graduation standards to ensure students will be able to meet state requirements. We do ask that you help your child to do their best to cover the materials that the teacher has prepared and ask that you help your child establish good study habits to help keep them on track. Our teachers will be available for help and guidance. For the younger learners, kindergarten through grade 5, do your best to help where you can and know that your middle and high school students will be more independent learners.
We know that we are going to have to be flexible during this time and our teachers are going to work with each family to accommodate a variety of situations. Be prepared for technical glitches and other bumps along the way and please ask for help when you need it. This isn’t going to be perfect and we would much rather have your children in our classrooms, but, for now, this is our new normal.
We remain hopeful that a vaccine will be discovered and the “stay at home” and “social distancing” efforts will help slow the spread of COVID-19 so that we can all come back together on Tuesday, May 5th to finish out the school year. I hope that you have managed to salvage some of your Spring Break by reconnecting with your families at home. It may not have been as much fun as relaxing on a beach or skiing down the slopes, but hopefully, we will all gain a new appreciation for the little things in life like going to grandma and grandpas for a visit or going to a movie or even playing in the park with friends.
Thank you for hanging in there with us. There aren’t enough words to express my gratitude to our parents, students, staff and our communities. Know that we will continue to be in touch with you as more updates become available.
Superintendent of Schools
BHM COVID-19 Update--March 25, 2020
Governor Tim Walz announced today at his press conference that schools will provide distance learning from March 30 through April 30, 2020. At this time, staff are scheduled to report back to work on Friday, May 1 and Monday, May 4 to prepare for the return of students to school on Tuesday, May 5. This is subject to change between now and then. He also shared that residents are to “stay at home” and limit movement for the next two weeks beginning Friday, March 27 at 11:59 p.m. through April 10. Here is the plan for BHM Schools in the days and weeks ahead.
Distance Learning, Materials and Technology Pick-Up
BHM Schools will continue with Spring Break March 27 through April 3. We will begin distance learning on Monday, April 6. To prepare for this, principals will communicate with families by tomorrow morning, Thursday, March 26, about picking up materials and technology (if you indicated a need on the technology survey conducted last week) from buildings on Friday, March 27.
We will post our district’s distance learning plan on our website by Monday, March 30. Your child’s principal and teacher(s) will be sending emails in the days ahead with more specific information on what distance learning and expectations will look like. Please know that expectations for distance learning will not mimic a regular school day in school. Teachers will be working closely with each of their student’s families and their individual needs.
Beginning Friday, March 27, and continuing over Spring Break, through Friday, April 3, FREE meals will be available for ALL children ages 18 and under and individuals 19 and over with state-defined mental or physical disabilities who participate in school programs, via curbside pick-up at the front entrances, unless otherwise noted, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the following locations:
Hanover Elementary--274 Labeaux Ave NE, Hanover
Montrose Elementary School of Innovation--100 2nd St. S, Montrose
Parkside Elementary--northwest corner of the building; look for signs--207 3rd Ave NE, Buffalo
We will provide more direction and information on meal distribution plans for after Spring Break once we have more information to share.
KidKare childcare will continue to be available at no cost for our emergency workers that has been outlined in the Governor’s Executive Order 20-02, School-Age Care for Children of Emergency Workers: Priority Categories of Workers. KidKare is open for full-day care from 6 a.m.-6:30 p.m. for children ages 3-12. Please call Lori Trogstad at 763-682-8787 for more information or to register.
We are providing you with the most current and up-to-date information as we get it. Remember that principals and teachers will be communicating with you more specifics regarding distance learning in the days ahead. We know there are many different situations with all of our families and we know flexibility is key as we move forward. As someone so eloquently posted on Facebook, “We are trying to fly a plane that hasn’t been built yet.” We can’t thank you enough for your understanding and patience, and we hope you are staying healthy and safe.
BHM COVID-19 Update--March 20, 2020
Governor Walz held a press conference today, but didn’t share any new information for schools. With that said, we will continue to plan for distance learning through next week. Remember, no instruction will be delivered at this time, however some teachers may be sending messages and possible resources to students to make connections and ease some anxieties. Spring break will be as scheduled March 27-April 3.
Thank you to everyone who completed the surveys for food and technology distribution. Lunch and breakfast deliveries will begin next week along our bus routes through next Thursday, March 26. If you signed up for this service, you will receive communication on when and where those deliveries will be. The food survey has closed, but if you have not signed-up and would like to receive meals, please contact Nutrition Services Director Kim Hinrichs at 763-682-8772. Plans for technology distribution (the technology survey is still open), along with other student materials, are still in progress and will be communicated once Governor Walz and the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) make an announcement on distance learning plans.
Remember, KidKare is open for full-day care 6 a.m.-6:30 p.m., March 18 through April 3, for all registered families. KidKare is also available to students ages 3-12 who are children of emergency workers critical to the State’s response to COVID-19 during this time. The definition of who those emergency and critical workers are has been extended and is defined under the Governor’s Executive Order 20-02, Care for Children of Families of Emergency Workers. Please call Lori Trogstad at 763-682-8787 for more information or to register.
Thank you for your questions and your comments. We are still working to develop answers to a variety of questions, and we continue to appreciate your cooperation as we work through this unprecedented situation. We will continue to keep you updated as new information becomes available. Enjoy your weekend, enjoy your children and stay safe!
BHM COVID-19 Update--March 18, 2020
We realize the unknown can leave many of you and our students feeling anxious at a time like this. There are many questions to be answered and we will do our best to address as many as we can. Decisions change by the minute from our national, state and local leaders and we appreciate the patience and understanding that you have extended to us as we sort through all of the information. The following are categories of information we believe are important for you to know--including *TWO SURVEYS we hope you will complete.
What You Need to Know
Teachers met Wednesday, March 18 to begin their preparation for the possibility of distance learning. Please know that we have through March 27 to plan, and we will receive guidance from Governor Walz and the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) if students will return to school after that time. No instruction will be distributed from teachers during that time. Once a decision has been made, further communications will be sent out from the district as to how we will continue the education of students. After this closure, students and staff will continue into Spring Break from March 27 through April 3. As stated, we will communicate with you further the plans for students and staff for Monday, April 6.
As we continue to plan for distance learning, we realize that some of our students will need technology and/or internet access. We would like you to complete the following brief, four-question Technology Access Survey. Please complete the survey by noon on Friday, March 20.
Many of you are wondering if we will make-up any of these days missed. We will not need to make up the days through March 27. We continue to take direction from MDE and will follow their guidance.
Please wait for communication from your principal regarding times to pick up items from the school. If you have essential items such as medications that need to be picked up, we ask that you call or email the school to make arrangements to stop in. We want to control the number of people entering the building at once and to ensure that someone is in the school office when you arrive.
KidKare is open for full-day care 6 a.m.-6:30 p.m., March 18 through April 3, for all registered families. KidKare is also available to students ages 3-12 who are children of emergency workers critical to the State’s response to COVID-19 during this time. Those emergency and critical workers are defined under the Governor’s Executive Order 20-02, Care for Children of Families of Emergency Workers - full list 03.17.20.pdf. Please call Lori Trogstad at 763-682-8787 for more information or to register.
Bus Delivery--Please Complete the Survey!
Beginning March 23-26, BHM Schools will offer FREE meals to ALL children in our district ages 18 and under and individuals 19 and over with state-defined mental or physical disabilities who participate in school programs. Meals will be delivered to children along already established BHM bus routes. NOTE: your child does not have to currently ride the bus to receive meals. If your child currently walks to school, they will need to participate in the Curb-Side Pick-Up service at their neighborhood school. The buses will deliver a bag lunch, and a breakfast for the following day. If you are interested in participating in this program, please fill out the Food Order Request Survey by noon Thursday, March 19. If you have questions, email Nutrition Services Director Kim Hinrichs (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Currently, FREE meals are being offered to ALL children in our district ages 18 and under and individuals 19 and over with state-defined mental or physical disabilities who participate in school programs, via curb-side pick-up at the front entrance, unless otherwise noted, from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at the following locations:
- Hanover Elementary--274 Labeaux Ave NE, Hanover
- Montrose Elementary School of Innovation--100 2nd St., Montrose
- Parkside Elementary--northwest corner of the building; look for signs--207 3rd Ave NE, Buffalo
Participants receive a bag lunch for the current day and a bag breakfast for the following day. Meals are not to be consumed on-site.
Beginning March 23-26, curb-side pick-up will be at the front entrance, unless otherwise noted, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the following locations:
- Buffalo Community Middle School--1300 Hwy 25 N, Buffalo
- Hanover Elementary--274 Labeaux Ave NE, Hanover
- Montrose Elementary School of Innovation--100 2nd St., Montrose
- Parkside Elementary--northwest corner of the building; look for signs--207 3rd Ave NE, Buffalo
- Northwinds Elementary--1111 7th Ave NW, Buffalo
- Tatanka Elementary--703 8th St NE, Buffalo
We will communicate more information about the continuation of this service over Spring Break and beyond.
Stop Auto Payments
Currently, some families have set-up monthly automatic payments for meals. Since we are uncertain when school will resume, you might want to consider temporarily suspending those automatic payments. You can do this by logging into the Parent Portal. If you have questions, email Nutrition Services Secretary Allison Barkley (email@example.com).
Coronoavirus (COVID-19) Update--March 15, 2020
During Governor Walz’s press conference this morning, he stated that schools will be closed in the state of Minnesota from March 18-27. BHM Schools has made the decision to not have school, beginning tomorrow, March 16 through March 27. Spring Break will go on as scheduled March 27-April 3. The decision to close schools will allow districts to plan for extended school closures and provide time for districts to plan for distance learning.
While our schools are closed (March 16 through April 3), all district-related activities and events are canceled. There are no ECFE/ECSE classes or preschool classes. All Community Education classes and activities are also canceled during this time. More guidance will be provided in the days and weeks ahead.
KidKare sites will remain open during this time (March 16 through April 3) for all registered families for full-day daycare. Child care will be made available to students ages 12 and under who are children of emergency workers critical to the State’s response to COVID-19. Those emergency and critical workers can include:
- Health care providers and systems, including hospitals and clinics
- Post-acute and long-term care facilities, including nursing and assisted living facilities
- Other health systems and organizations such as:
- Home Care workers
- Personal Care Assistants
- Direct Care and Treatment
- First responders
- Personnel providing correctional services
- Essential court personnel
- Minnesota State Veterans Homes staff
- State and local public health agency employees
- MNsure Navigators
- County financial/eligibility workers
- County case managers
- Or any county staff in emergency management or health and human services
Contact Community Education at 763-682-8770 if you are one of these emergency/critical workers that would need childcare during this closure.
We cannot stress enough about how important it is for EVERYONE to help prevent the spread of any illness by following the guidelines below:
- Stay home if you are not feeling well.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Cough and sneeze into your sleeve (or tissue). Make sure your mouth and nose are covered.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Practice social distancing.
If you have questions about infectious diseases, call the Minnesota Department of Health at 651-201-3920. Phone lines are open seven days a week from 7 a.m.-7- p.m.
We know your children could be asking questions. Here are some guidelines you can use when talking with your children from the National Association of School Psychologists.
To learn more about COVID-19 and how to cope with this developing situation, visit:
This is a fast-changing situation and new guidance is given out daily. We know that you have many questions and more information will be shared in the days ahead as decisions are made. Once again, we appreciate everyone’s patience and cooperation as we navigate this ever-changing situation.
We will continue to keep familes updated on any changes through our parent messaging system, our website and Facebook page.