Frequently Asked Questions

What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus that has not been found in people before. Currently, there are three confirmed cases in Minnesota. Based on reports from places where it has circulated, COVID-19 presents a range of illnesses. While many cases may be mild to moderate with symptoms similar to colds and flu, some cases may be more severe. The risk of severe illness seems to be higher for older people and those with underlying health conditions. Because this is a new virus, there are still things we do not know, such as how severe the illness can be, how well it is transmitted between people, and other features of the virus. Please visit the Minnesota Department of Health website or CDC website for more information.

How do the Owatonna Public Schools stay up to date about COVID-19?
Student and staff health and safety is a top priority. We are monitoring developments closely and receive strong support from our partners at the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Department of Education. Owatonna Public Schools is following the guidance of these and other state agencies. We are also receiving updates from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure our school district has the latest information. The District’s COVID-19 preparation team participates in a statewide call everyday solely about the virus and the information most valuable to schools.

What is the Owatonna Public Schools doing about COVID-19?
We employe strategic disinfectant procedures during the influenza season. The same cleaning strategies that we use to limit influenza transmission are effective in combating COVID-19. These include frequent disinfecting of surfaces and spray/mist sanitizer machines that we can use to quickly and safely sanitize classrooms on a regular schedule. The District also has a crisis plan that includes a specific pandemic flu preparation strategy. We are currently reviewing this strategy and preparing to implement it, if necessary. This plan includes details about how we monitor any potential flu outbreak in a school building and the various action steps we will use to prevent the spread of illness. 

What actions should we take to protect our family?
Right now, the most important actions people in our community can take to prevent illness are simple and effective. The Minnesota Department of Health indicates that following these basic good health practices is the most effective way to protect yourself and your family:
  • Stay home if you are feeling ill, have a fever of 100 degrees or more, or are exhibiting flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover a cough. Cough or sneeze into an elbow or use a tissue and place immediately in the trash.
  • Practice "social distancing" by staying at least 6 feet away from people when out in public.
Additionally, you may take this opportunity to review your family’s own emergency plans. Think about backup plans for child care if school is temporarily closed or if parents, children, or a child care provider is sick. Think about necessary items to have at home, including prescription medication (check your refill dates), and non-prescription medications, such as fever-reducing medications. 

Will student meals be provided during distance learning, and where can I pick them up?

Starting March 30, 2020, Owatonna Public Schools will be providing free meals to all children ages 1-18 years old at 14 different locations throughout the community. For further details on meal pick up please see the links below. Please note, children must be present at pick up sites to receive a meal.

Free Meal Pick Up Flyer
Bus Delivery Locations 
Owatonna Food Map 

Questions may be directed to Nutrition Services: 507-444-8616 or

Will child care be provided during distance learning?
Free child care is being provided at McKinley Elementary for parents who are healthcare and emergency workers. Health precautions are in place, social distancing is being used and time for distance learning is included. Parents should call 507-444-7900 with questions about eligibility or registration for child care.

What is distance learning?
The Minnesota Department of Education has asked Owatonna Public Schools and others around the state to prepare instructional plans that will allow meaningful, relevant learning to take place while schools are closed. Schools are expected to develop lessons utilizing a distance learning model for every level in grades PreK-8 and each graduation requirement course for grades 9-12.

The Minnesota Department of Education defines distance learning “as providing students with access to appropriate educational materials and ensuring they receive daily interaction with their licensed teacher(s).”  Distance learning is intended to limit the loss of face-to-face instructional time, due to school cancellations (for weather or other natural disasters). If school remains closed, distance learning will begin on Monday, March 30th.

During the week of March 16, our instructional staff began intense preparation for a transition to distance learning should that be required.  

As we prepare how to best implement distance learning for our students, our mission — Inspiring Excellence, Every Learner, Every Day — is in the forefront of our planning process.

What if we don’t have internet for distance learning?
The Owatonna Public School District has a limited number of free T-Mobile 4G LTE wireless hotspots devices.  A top priority is to take care of families that cannot get the internet from any local provider (such as Spectrum, CenturyLink, Jaguar, RadioLink, MN WiFi, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T) at their location as well as those that are graduating from high school this school year.  There is currently a plan being worked on that would consist of delivering materials to students via scheduled bus routes that do not have access to the internet. 

Here is a list of local internet providers.

What does our family need for distance learning?
Classroom teachers have reached out to their students to see what sort of support will be needed in case the governor declares the move to distance learning on March 30. All students/families in grades kindergarten-12th grade who were in need of a device, were issued one.

When will distance learning begin?
On March 25, Governor Tim Walz announced that all public schools in Minnesota will begin Distance Learning on Monday, March 30, 2020, which will continue through Thursday, April 30.  Staff will report to school on Friday, May 1 and Monday, May 4 to prepare for transitioning students back to class. Students will report back to school on Tuesday, May 5.

Have changes to graduation for the Class of 2020 been announced?
We know how important graduation and the well-deserved celebration is to all of our seniors and their families.  Right now, we have not announced any changes to our graduation schedule and remain hopeful that we will be able to conduct a ceremony honoring the Class of 2020.  It is possible that we may need to make adjustments to those plans and we will inform you as quickly as possible if anything changes.

What about summer school and summer SAC (School-Aged Childcare)?
We have not received any guidance as to what summer programming, offered through the school district, may be available or potential impacts.  As of right now, we are planning to offer both of these programs as originally planned. When we receive guidance from the various state agencies, we will thoughtfully craft a plan and communicate it to our students and parents.