RED WING -- School Board members are clearly torn: Do they stick with the tentative plan to bring students back into the buildings or slow it down.

Instead of deciding Monday night, the board agreed to hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 7.

Currently, all K-12 students are in distance learning. The plan that the board endorsed on Dec. 21 calls for returning K-4 students to in-person learning and grades 5-12 to hybrid learning. The plan would start with grades K-2 on Jan. 12 and then grades 3-4 on Jan. 19. Grades 5-12 would return to hybrid learning Jan. 19.

Board members considered two concerns.

First, there is a question whether the district met the state deadline to craft its own plan.

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The Minnesota Department of Education issued directives on Dec. 16, 21 and 24 as COVID-19 rates changed and school districts sought clarification, Superintendent Karsten Anderson said. Those directives have stated that student returns must be staggered in two-week increments, and only three grades at time. But districts that notified families of a different plan before Dec. 16 may proceed.

There is a question on whether the district’ s plan met that deadline. The superintendent said he has a consultation with state officials Tuesday morning.

“There could be different interpretations,” Anderson said.

Board members Jim Bryant and Pam Roe will attend the consultation with the superintendent.

Second, the county’s COVID-19 case rate remains over 50 -- when the recommendation is to have distance learning. The most recent 14-day rolling rate was 82.44.

“I was hoping to see lower numbers than they are now,” Board member Arlen Diercks said, noting that he made the motion Dec. 21 to adopt the plan. “Do we want to proceed with this plan or don’t we want to proceed?”

The board agreed to a special meeting Thursday, when Goodhue County and the state each issue updated COVID-19 case rates and numbers.

Officers elected, pay raised

RED WING -- Pam Roe will serve a second year as School Board chair, winning the post on a 4-3 vote Monday, Jan. 4. Jim Bryant, who was the other nominee, then won the vice chair seat 4-3 over Arlen Diercks during the organizational meeting.

Unanimous votes were cast for Jennifer Tift as clerk and Holly Tauer as treasurer.

Also on a 4-3 vote, the board approved a $200 increase in member pay. In 2020, the salaries were: chair, $3,700, clerk, $3,500, board members, $3,000, plus $30 per meeting for those on the negotiations committee. Bryant, Holly Tauer and Nicky Buck voted no.