Orono is one of the school districts in the area that are transitioning to a solely distance learning model. The school board approved the shift during their Thursday, Nov. 12 meeting.

All Orono students and programs will be moved to distance learning. Orono Middle School and Orono High School moved to distance learning on Wednesday, Nov. 18, while Schumann Elementary, Orono Intermediate School and Discovery Center Preschool classes will move to distance learning on Tuesday, Dec. 1, according to a message from the district. No change to athletics or activities have been made at this time.

“Our goal has always been to safely bring hybrid students to campus as often, and for as long as we were able. We have also been planning for this possible scenario. We are ready to quickly make the transition and provide an outstanding academic experience that supports the needs of all Orono students,” the district message continues to say.

Childcare will still be available for parents who classify as a Tier One worker. Applications will be reviewed by Community Education for Spartan Kids childcare. Distance learning meals are free to all kids 18-years and younger. Toddlers and students that do not currently attend Orono schools are included. Current pick up times are Monday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Orono High School parking lot.

“Cases and quarantine protocols are also making it increasingly difficult for Orono Schools to staff hybrid classrooms with the proper student-to-space ratios and social distancing,” the message stated.

The district has been working with the Minnesota Department of Health to manage COVID-19 cases and exposure. According to data provided on the district’s website, as of Wednesday, Nov. 11, there have been 30 active COVID-19 positive cases. “Active” refers to an individual with a COVID-19 positive test who was in a district building. There have also been 13 recovered COVID-19 cases and 302 students have been unable to attend school due to quarantine. There are currently 2,834 students attending Orono schools.

There have been five active COVID-19 positive cases out of 376 staff members, sixe recovered and 25 were unable to return to school due to quarantine.

Updates to the district learning model were discussed during the school board meeting. According to city staff, the district has been able to contact trace every coronavirus case and found they were traced back to after school activities and social gatherings. Whether students and staff will return to in-person learning this academic year is currently unknown.

More information can be found at https://orono.k12.mn.us/

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