Orono Intermediate School moved to 14 days of full distance learning Monday after additional cases of COVID-19 within the school were confirmed.

Orono Intermediate School serves students in grades three through five. The district sent out a letter previously to Orono Intermediate School students, families and staff to inform them of the first confirmed case of COVID-19. Potential exposure dates were Sept. 14-16.

“The risk of exposure for individuals present in the building on those dates is no greater than the risk of contracting the virus in the general community,” the letter stated.

Along with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), the district is working to identify and communicate with people who had close contact with the individuasl.

The district’s back-to-school plan advises those who have had close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 to stay home and encourages students to self-monitor. The distinct is offering hybrid learning for students with the option for full-time distance learning during the 2020-2021 school year.

At the time of the letter, the district stated they have not received any other reports of students or staff experiencing symptoms. Since this letter, it was reported a second letter was sent out stating the district has seen more cases of COVID-19. The second letter was not made available to the Laker Pioneer by press time.

“We understand that this may create unease in our community. We preventatively clean and sanitize the facility throughout the day and in the evening after our building closes for the day and follow MDH health guidelines,” the first letter stated.

During the Orono school board meeting on Sept. 14, reviewed the district’s COVID-19 Face Coverings Policy (policy 808). Member Mike Bash began by clarifying the mask policy is being reviewed due to some initial confusion. The Orono School district requires anyone 5 years or older to wear a face covering in school buildings.

“We think this is important for the staff, parents, the community to understand how important we think face masks are and how they are a requirement for someone who says ‘no I don’t think so.’ We’re saying pretty clearly, yes there is a requirement if you want to participate in in-person learning in the Orono Schools. I think that’s an important message that we send,” Bash said.

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