Owatonna Online gets approved by the Department of Education


Valentina Contreras

Owatonna Online gets approved by the Minnesota Department of Education

Valentina Contreras, Writer

At the school board meeting on March 29, Ms. Michelle Krell, the Director of teaching and learning, announced that the Minnesota Department of Education has approved the online school. Owatonna Online is the new accredited online school. It is a state-approved, comprehensive and supplementary education provider. Ms. Krell said, “We were able to meet the needs and requirements that MDE had for us. We now can offer a comprehensive education program K-12 for students.” Owatonna Online will open in the fall, and it is available to any student K-12 that is a Minnesota resident and to everyone already enrolled in the Owatonna Public Schools district. 

This online model will look a lot like the current distance learning model. The district will provide a device, free of charge, internet access for those who need it, a curriculum and resources and connections with Owatonna Public Schools teachers and staff. Support will include morning meetings and learning blocks in the morning and afternoon. Students can enroll in music and art programs. Students participating in the comprehensive program, which is the full time online program, are Owatonna Public Schools students and have the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities and programs. This program is especially appealing to homeschooled families because the district will provide them with all the resources they need.

We recognize that as students get older they are more capable of working independently.

— Michelle Krell

Learning models will vary by age group. K-5 students will be provided with a learning coach and with training that will teach parents how to teach their children. The 6-8 model will be more independent and self-paced, but still very much managed by a classroom teacher for core classes. High school students will have a flexible and self paced learning model. Ms. Krell said, “We recognize that as students get older they are more capable of working independently.’’ Students will be required to take part in standardized tests provided by the district. 

This is a big step forward for Owatonna Public Schools. Superintendent Mr. Jeff Elstad said, “This really sets us ahead of a lot of other school districts.” The announcement has already helped show some student interest. Junior Brynn Nordland, who is currently a virtual learner, has enjoyed learning from home. She said, “Yes I would be interested, I would be able to learn at my own pace and way.” 

Fall enrollment is open. Families in-district can complete this form to enroll their child in grades K-5 and this form to enroll a student in grades 6-12. For open enrollment information visit here. For any questions, contact the district office at (507)-444-8600 or Michelle Krell at [email protected].