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Winter Break Message from the Superintendent

This time of year, I often think about my dad who has now been gone almost 18 years. We did not have a lot growing up, but what we did have was family. Our family of eight meant that there was always some excitement going on in our small little farmhouse. 

As my siblings and I grew older and left home, my dad talked about wanting to adopt children. Why, after having six kids, would one even consider this? Well, his explanation was simple. He missed “the noise” of all of us. He looked forward to the house coming alive on Christmas morning with the sounds of excitement, laughter and even some arguing. 

Around this same time last year, SoWashCo Schools had shifted to distance learning and our schools were not the same without all “the noise” of our students. The promise of a vaccine, at that time, was just around the corner. There was hope that the pandemic would start to turn around and we would get back to normal in months. Instead, we have all been faced with new challenges that can’t quite be measured. In our schools, we see students in need of additional support socially, emotionally and behaviorally. Academics have become secondary to these challenges. Sadly, Washington County now has daily case rates as high as the height of the pandemic last fall. Between staff shortages, COVID-19 cases and food supply issues, our schools remain on the edge of the unknown. 

The vaccine remains the best chance for reducing the cases in our schools and preventing another shift to distance learning. Due to staff shortages, we have already placed some classrooms into distance learning because of illness. South Washington County Schools and the State of Minnesota will host a free vaccination clinic for all children age five and older in January. Booster shots will also be available. You can learn more here.

I want each of you to know how grateful I am to be in such wonderful communities that are so invested in our kids. I am certain that we will continue to face new challenges and with your support, we will make it through together. Thank you for your support and kindness during a difficult 2021.

Happy New Year!

Julie Nielsen Signature

Julie Nielsen, Superintendent