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COVID-19 struggles force former teacher to make career change

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MOOSE LAKE, MN-- When Mary Lou Olson started teaching six years ago she never thought she would make a career change.

"I was going to be a teacher in 10th grade and everyone knew it," said Olson.

The uncertainty COVID-19 has brought, Olson has decided to stay home for the 2020-2021 school year.

She resigned from the East Central School District in May, after finding child care and remote working posed problems.

"I taught from home but also our daycare closed so I taught with kids at home too," said Olson. "It was super hard. We cannot go forward into the next school year this way, especially with kids home."

Instead, the former teacher will take the year to grow her business 'A Paper Garden' that started as a hobby several years ago.

Olson added, "In 2017 I started making paper flowers for friends doing random projects. A friend self published a book so I did flowers for her book cover. Another friend asked me to do her wedding. "

Three years later and more than 10 weddings later, she's ready to take the business to the next level.

"It's a good opportunity for me to stay home and to make some income that I wouldn't otherwise get. It's been really good to us so far."

Meanwhile, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz is expected to announce Thursday what school will look like in the fall.

Olson said she needed a plan earlier than that. "We just had to make that decision sooner, we can't wait until July 30th to figure out what we needed to do with our kids."

Come next year she may return to the classroom, but for now she'll focus on her business and spending time with her kids.

Olson will also be helping out other local families in Moose Lake with babysitting as she said it has been a challenge finding options.

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Emma Quinn

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