Learning near and far starts for Willmar Public Schools students

The start of the school year looks different for each student in the Willmar Public School district due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sixth grade student Dalilah Singsank, 11, walks into Willmar Middle School while wearing a mask after being dropped off for the first day of school Tuesday morning in Willmar. Willmar Middle School students started their first day with a hybrid model of instruction which allows a portion of students to spend two days a week in school and do distance learning the other three days. Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune

WILLMAR — Students across Willmar Public Schools geared up for the first day of school on Tuesday, some at home and some in-person.

Secondary students, including Willmar Middle School and Willmar Senior High School, started their first day with a hybrid model of instruction. Students spend two days a week in school and do distance learning the other three days. Classes are split into two groups, "A" group and "B" group. One group attends in-person school Monday and Tuesday and the second goes to school Thursday and Friday. Wednesdays are set aside for deep cleaning, in addition to the regular daily cleaning and sanitizing.

The elementary schools are attending in-person classes, but the first two days of the school year will be used for elementary conferences that will include some instruction for parents in using the iPads the district purchased for distance learning. Elementary school students will officially begin attending classes Thursday.

All public schools are taking standard coronavirus precautions such as wearing masks, daily temperature screenings, practicing social distancing and sanitizing.


Erica Dischino is a photojournalist for the West Central Tribune and Forum News Service. She grew up in northern New Jersey and has lived in the Midwest since 2017. She enjoys photographing the stories of west central Minnesota from county fairs, parades and pandemics. Feel free to contact her at or 320-894-8865 with your best photo ideas.
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