As COVID-19 cases rise within Washington County, the Forest Lake Area School District will continue with its plan to return to school on Sept. 8. 

The district is going to continue to move forward with the plan they began to put in place July 30: all elementary students will return to in-person school and secondary students will follow a hybrid model allowing for more social distancing. 

Superintendent Steve Massey acknowledged the recent rise in COVID-19 cases within Washington county puts part of the district into the recommended model that has elementary and secondary both participating in hybrid classes. 

“We are in no way driven to be reckless or blind to the data,” Massey said. ”But the data that I would offer is more broad than just the county.”

After looking at more specific data based on zip-code instead of the entire county, Massey decided that the district will not change course from its current plan. Massey also mentioned  advice received from a member of the Minnesota Department of Health stating that he was told as long as the district could keep safety measures in place, there is no need to change plans due to a few more cases being announced county-wide. 

Massey did however stress that this is not a permanent plan for the entire school year. 

“We will continue to monitor weekly as these numbers continue to move and adjust,” Massey said. “We may need to move [to distance learning or hybrid] and no family should be surprised if we make that move.”

Massey continues to discuss the district’s plan with a member of MDH and was told that they are on the right path. With several months of planning going into the first day of school, Massey also called attention to the effort that has been put into this school year and how it is unlike anything they have seen before. 

“This has been a daunting summer of planning,” Massey said. “There is nothing normal about this year.”

Massey said that the district does not take lightly what a change in learning models might do to families, but a safe learning environment for students, staff and teachers is paramount.

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