HOLDINGFORD -- As the novel coronavirus continues to sow fear and uncertainty, members of our communities are rising to the occasion and supporting one another.

Heather DeZurik, a parent of three Holdingford School District students, says administrators, teachers and staff have shown themselves to be true heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic for her family.

“When we decided to send our kids to Holdingford, we were very nervous,” explained DeZurik, a St. Cloud native and Tech High School graduate. “We're not native to this town. But, I have never once regretted it, and the last two weeks have been the icing on the cake.”

DeZurik says district staff have gone “above and beyond” by volunteering to deliver breakfast and lunch throughout the small community, and have stayed in constant communication with kids and parents through email and social media.

“They’ve worked hard to make sure everyone feels in the loop and safe,” she said. “The kids, the parents – they want us to know they’re here, and they’re behind us.”

DeZurik says Jim Stang, principal of Holdingford Elementary, has leveraged Facebook Live as a way to answer students' questions and help them stay connected with one another.

“He makes it funny and lighthearted,” she said. “Last time, he read a story to the kids and did little jokes and tricks. He’s always made a point of getting to know everybody, and he knows how worried everybody is right now.”

DeZurik's daughters, a second grader and a kindergartner, have found comfort amid the chaos through social media check-ins with their teachers. DeZurik says she realized how important the school community is when she went to pick her children’s belongings.

“That was honestly the scariest moment for me, walking through that empty school,” she said. “Seeing all the empty lockers and finding my kids’ bags of belongings. I realized how much is actually in there. When you pick that bag up, and it weighs 20 pounds, it hits you. This is my kid’s job. I spend eight or nine hours a day at work and they’re spending eight hours here. This is their family. These are their friends. This is who they look up to when I’m not around.”

DeZurik says she appreciates the age-appropriate materials her young children received on how to talk about the coronavirus. Her oldest, a senior, stands to miss out on milestones like graduation and senior prom. DeZurik says the grief that has been caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has been easier to manage, thanks to the vigilance of district workers.

“This school – they’ve really got it together,” she said. “The teachers, the paras, the school bus drivers, the cafeteria people - nobody has said, ‘OK, my job here is done.’ Not at all. They've done more than we ever expected. I just want them to know I think that is so amazing, and I want other people to know it, too."


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