Parents, Staff and Community Members of the Pierz School District:
Thank you so much for your understanding and support of the challenges we were dealt yesterday and today. Much of last night and today was spent working with law enforcement in our area to seek information and clarification on what our next steps would be. We are lucky to have high-quality local law enforcement who have a terrific working relationship with county law enforcement.
Minutes ago, we received an official statement from the Sheriff Office related to our schools which is as follows:
On December 16, 2021, the Royalton Police Department received information regarding potential threats involving Little Falls Schools, Pierz Schools and Royalton Schools. The Royalton Police Department, along with the Morrison County Sheriff’s Office, Little Falls Police Department and the Pierz Police Department have initiated an investigation regarding the potential threats.
This information was shared with local school districts and out of an abundance of caution, a decision was made to close schools in Morrison County on Friday, December 17, 2021.
This investigation remains ongoing, however, at this point law enforcement feels there is no ongoing threat to our students, schools or residents. Law enforcement takes these threats very seriously and continues to follow up on any new information that is reported.
Shawn Larsen, Morrison County Sheriff
At this point, there is no evidence to indicate any Pierz students were involved in inappropriate social media behavior related to this event.
Beginning Saturday, December 18th, schools will again be open for events. School will be in session as normal on Monday morning.
We are thankful for the judgment and the values that have been instilled in our children that lead to good choices. It is challenging for them and for parents to navigate the various ways in which social media connectivity can lead to inappropriate content. Again, we are thankful. At the same time, we must continue to be vigilant. Any parents, caregivers, or adult role models should consider carefully what social media applications are being used by your child(ren). Many of these social apps give full access to inappropriate content and give no oversight or management of pictures, videos, and suggestions that are forced in front of your children and teens.
Consider any opportunity you can, including this event, to confront that issue on behalf of the child, rather than place them into the position of being inundated with it. Encourage communication. Be aware of what your children are posting, to whom they are posting, and what they are being exposed to.
Thank you so much for your ongoing help and support and being part of a team that makes our schools great!
—Superintendent George Weber
Today all schools in Minnesota were informed of a potential national Tik Tok challenge threatening schools. This nationwide challenge has now affected us locally.
At one point today, a student in Morrison County reported that he saw a post on Tik Tok that specifically referenced several schools in our region as part of this national threat, and one of them was Pierz Schools.
At this point, Law Enforcement is investigating details into that report. Given that threat, and with utmost safety of our staff and students in mind, Pierz and a couple other schools in our area are taking action to close schools tomorrow. Our decisions for now are as follows:
Please continue to speak with your children regarding responsible social media usage and encourage them to report inappropriate behaviors. —Superintendent George Weber
Hello everyone! We are overjoyed to finally get back to a normal year and back to concerts, performances, and other fun activities. In October, we had our first concert of the year, Epic Adventures, and this month we look forward to your continued support as we present our holiday concerts on December 7, 9, and 13.
Our jazz ensembles have also been very busy this fall. Our Jazz I ensemble has been working on Christmas music to perform at the Pierz Senior Center on December 16th at 3:30 PM. Our Jazz II ensemble will be performing at the December 7th concert as well. Both jazz ensembles will be performing at our Annual Jazz Night on April 29th—mark that date in your calendar now!
With sporting events opening back up to the public, the pep band will be attending more games to support our Pioneer Athletics. We had a blast playing at Football and Volleyball games this fall and look forward to our first Winter Pep Band at the Girls Basketball game on December 16th. We will also be at the December 21st Boys Basketball game before Christmas Break.
Another exciting event we have coming up this year is our band and choir trip to San Antonio. We will depart by plane on January 22nd and will return on the 26th. Some of our planned activities are a River Canal Cruise, Six Flags, and a trip to the Enchanted Springs Ranch and Corpus Christi beach. We will also be performing at Six Flags Fiesta Texas.
We have a great group of officers leading our band this year. Caleb Kuske is our Vice President, Lynn Skiba is our secretary, and Lance Otremba is our treasurer. We also elected Alyssa Thesing as our official photographer.
It’s an exciting time to be a Pioneer. Thank you for your support and we look forward to seeing you at our concerts and athletic events: Go Pioneers!
—Kiara Olesch, Band President
I want to extend a warm and memorable Thanksgiving wish to all the families and friends throughout our communities. We are having a successful school year and have much to be thankful for. Our parents and staff have worked through the challenges that the pandemic has created to a point where it has not, for the most part, disrupted educational access and support. We, like many industries, struggle to recruit staff for new positions and to find substitute employees when staff are not able to come to work. We all owe thanks to our district employees who pour out their energy each day to meet the needs of 1200+ children, as well as motivating and supporting children to put their best foot forward each hour of each day. Certainly, we continue to need parent support; staff and administration need to continue to feel the support of parents as we work with your children. We are thankful to work in a community so supportive of schools, family values, and social values. This support is what makes our community and schools highly successful and respectful.
I took a moment to thank our staff today. It is truly impressive to be out and about at Pioneer Elementary School on any given morning to witness the whole process of busing, breakfast, recess, getting to lockers, getting books and Chromebooks, getting to class, and getting students ready to learn. Each school day, 600+ elementary children arrive, smiling and happy to see a loving adult help them with anything they need. Whether it’s a bus driver, a para, a custodian, a teacher, a cook, an office staff—everyone is here to help and to serve the needs of our students. It is amazing to see it all work. At Healy, it is impressive to see so many teenagers waking up early to work out, or play an instrument, or practice singing, or meet a teacher to talk about studies they need help with. It is impressive to see so many kind high school students living their best life and helping fellow classmates to do the same. That is a testament to our parents as well as the staff who go out of their way to engage children in and out of the classroom.
Thank you—to all reading this. I hope each of you partakes in some wonderful food and time with immediate and extended family, to be able to pause and take notice of the blessings and values we have around us, and to celebrate the things that make this a great place to be a family.
—Superintendent George Weber
For the past year, teachers, administrators, and school board members at Pierz Schools have been meeting and now have a plan to update the industrial technology classrooms at the high school. These areas, consisting of the wood shop, welding shop, and agricultural classrooms, will be seeing some exciting changes in the very near future.
The plan in place is a phased plan as much of the work will need to be done in the short summer months, as the rest of the year brings high demand for those teaching spaces. Phasing this rollout is also necessary now due to the challenges the construction industry as a whole faces right now—availability of product as well as the availability of engineers, contractors, and the backlog of licenses and permits at the state level make any new construction project an extra challenge for districts.
With these challenges, the exact timeline of each phase is still to be determined. However, when all phases are complete, the results will be as follows:
The current special education space (aka the old choir room) will be combined with the current health classroom (aka the old drafting room for those of a certain age) to transform it into a large multi-use Ag Classroom. One side will be designed for Bio-Ag: the classroom will have counters, running water, a very large stainless steel sink, and large south-facing windows for growing seeds and starter plants for the greenhouse. The other larger side will support other Ag-Related instruction: animal care classes, wildlife, etc.
A new classroom and office space will be added to house special education services.
The wood shop will also see a complete remodel. All current storage rooms will be opened up, creating a large teaching and work space with additional new equipment. A new anti-dust vacuum system will be installed. In addition, a large storage room will be added to the east side of the wood shop.
The welding/metal shop is also ready for an update after tirelessly serving our students over the years. The remodel will include new hoods for venting of all equipment. A storage room will also be added to the east side of the metal shop to open up more classroom space.
The current agriculture classroom will be remodeled and made larger with removal of all four smaller rooms to make a large technology space. This new Tech room will house high-tech, industry-standard tools like 3-D printers, laser engravers, laser printers, plasma cutters and other equipment with updated HVAC. This room will have large windows on both sides with door access to the metal shop on one side and the wood shop on the other side, making it easily available and accessible to all three industrial technology teachers throughout the day.
Lastly, new bathrooms and water fountains will be added to this area as well.
It’s an exciting project and one that’s been in the making for a long time. When all phases of the project are completed, the industrial technology area will provide industry-standard resources that will equip our students with career-ready skills to bring with them after graduation.
Pierz School District was able to procure BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen self-testing kits for our students and staff to access free of charge. The test is completed at home with rapid results without the need to ship samples to a lab or for a prescription from your healthcare provider. We are not allowed to administer the test at school. If anyone in your home is positive or if your students are showing signs or symptoms of COVID-19, please keep your students home and email Robyn Skwira for more information and to request a test kit.
Our goal is to keep in-person school going all year. This is an important mission. Our biggest challenge in meeting that goal will be if the COVID-19 virus spreads in our schools, and we do not have staff to manage a normal school day. Let us all do what we can to slow the spread for the benefit of all our staff, students, and families.
At halftime of the Sept 24, 2021 Homecoming football game vs Rockford, Pierz High School will be introducing their latest members of the Pioneer Athletic Hall of Fame. The new members include: Craig Luberts - Class of 2004; Kyle Bednar - Class of 2006; Jamie Talberg - Class of 2006 ; Kristin (Sczublewski) Egan - Class of 2007 ; Kaari (Jensen) Epperly Class of 2009; Clint Poster - Class of 2011 ; Leo Pohlkamp - Coach. There will be a reception in the middle school gym immediately after the game. The public is invited. Congratulations to all the inductees and their families!
It sure feels good to be back in the building with our students and fellow staff. We have missed the smiles and camaraderie that being together in a learning environment brings. We have had just a handful of days in the classroom so far this year, but paired with beautiful weather, motivated staff, and excited students--it's been some pretty wonderful first days.
We've also been fortunate to welcome nearly 30 new staff members to the Pierz Schools family. Almost all areas have gained a new face and with that a new perspective to share with us. To meet them all, click here. If you see them in their new community, don't be a stranger! Welcome them to this corner of the world that we get to call home.
Lastly, we can't ignore the elephant in the room: we remain diligent in our steps to ensure the health and wellness of our staff and students. Students and staff are welcomed to wear masks, hand sanitizing stations are still maintained, and teachers encourage social distancing and outdoor classes and activities. Masks are required on all busses. If your child or family members have symptoms of COVID, please contact the district nurse and make plans to keep them home for the recommended period. We can only keep in-person learning going if we can keep our students and staff healthy. We already have a number of reported positive cases and those parents of students in close contact will be notified (by the email the district has on file) so parents can make the best choice for their student. Same-household siblings of a positive case will also be required to quarantine. Please be diligent in monitoring your students for signs of illness.
Parent Information on Covid Protocols
Minnesota Department of Education has determined that the decisions regarding Covid Protocols and Distance Learning are to be made at the local School Board level this coming school year, as opposed to the Statewide Rulemaking that was implemented last year, with the exception of School Busing.
Masks will not be required in District 484 buildings. The district and staff are very supportive of those who choose to wear one. We support and accept all who choose to wear a mask in our schools and on our properties. Bullying of any person for reasons of mask wearing will be dealt with under the district’s bullying policy.
Close Contact Quarantine
The District will not be removing students or staff from school based upon close contacts with positive COVID-19 cases. Schools MUST report positive test results in accordance with MN Rule 4605.7070 (called Red Cap report) and require we report a case, name, grade, etc.
Parents will be notified via email if your child is considered a close contact of a confirmed case of Covid-19 among the students or adults working with your child.
Parents are provided this information so they can determine the best decision for their child and family.
Excused and unexcused absences will be managed using existing school policies. Covid related absences will be considered school excused.
Parents please do not send a child to school who is showing any signs of respiratory illness, coughing, sinus infection, etc. The school will be sending students home who present illness. Students are welcome back at school once their symptoms subside.
Student process as related to Positive Covid Cases
What are we required to do with a positive case of Covid?
a) That case must be reported to MDH.
b) Student must isolate for 10 days and return on day 11.
Student work will be provided to all children while they are home.
Loss of Taste and Smell is an almost universal indicator of Covid;
Therefore, when a student reports loss of taste and smell, it will be treated as a positive case of Covid, with the exception that a confirmed negative test, within the recommended testing time frame, would result in the student being allowed to return to school immediately.
Requirements for Students who are living within the same household of a student who has tested positive for Covid. Parent is advised to contact the school nurse to review the expectations.
-If the student is vaccinated, they may attend school unless they are showing symptoms of Covid, then they follow all current student illness protocols as outlined in the School Health Policy.
-Or, if a student is not vaccinated, and is symptom free for 5 days after exposure from a household positive, and the student then tests negative, they may return to school on day 8.
-Or, if a student tests negative, but has symptoms, review School Health Policy.
-Or, if a student does not produce a negative test, then they may return to school on day 11 of being symptom free.
Student work will be provided to all children while they are home.
Update on Busing
Public School Transportation is considered under the umbrella of all Public Transportation and not under the jurisdiction of MN Dept of Education. Therefore, MDE is not able to transfer that authority to local School Boards. Masks are still required on Public Transportation including all school bus routes. This is a Federal mandate we and every other school in Minnesota, private or public, is required to implement.
Pierz is adding another bus route to create more convenience for our students.
Our In-Town policy will change from last year. We will pick up students on the west side of Main Street this year, as well as pick up children at the licensed day care providers east of main street. Health experts highly encourage walking to school. It is a great way to get the brain ready for learning.
Bus routes are being developed right now and the Bus Route Drivers will be contacting parents later next week (those first few dates in September) to verify pick up and drop off times. As always, these are estimates as our routes change daily based upon preschool schedules and other factors. Parents and children should be ready 3 to 5 minutes prior to the pick up time.
Pioneer Elementary staff will walk students across Park Avenue and Kamnic Street after school.
Parent Drop Off Information
Students in grades PK-6 can be dropped off by door 20 of Pioneer, the “Student drop off/ pick up” door, between 7:30am and 8:15am. Students who wish to eat breakfast should arrive by 8:00am.
Students in grades 7-12 can enter door 7 (behind Healy) or door 3 (front of Healy) starting at 7:30am. Door 3 is the bus drop off point, if you as a parent are dropping off , please pull up to door 2 to avoid the busses.
Click here for a map of parking lots and where to drop off and pick up students.
End of day student pick up will be similar to last year. Parents will use the Remind app to notify staff when they arrive.
News and Updates