Orono Intermediate School (OIS) students have been distance learning since Wednesday, Sept. 30 after four additional cases of COVID-19 within the school were confirmed following the news of one confirmed case.

According to Orono School district’s director of communications Lyssa Campbell, as of Monday, Oct. 5, students enrolled in OIS are set to return back to hybrid learning on Monday, Oct. 12. The district is watching data on a daily basis and the return date has the possibility to change.

The district sent a letter out to OIS families that included information about the four additional cases before the students began their 14 days of distance learning. The letter, which is posted on the district’s website, states the “decision is based on additional health and data recently shared with the district, the number of staff members impacted by COVID-19 quarantine protocols, and therefore the inability to maintain hybrid classrooms in grades three to five with the proper student-to-space ratios and social distancing.”

The school stated it was a “very difficult decision” and noted the district had planned for this situation and was “ready to quickly make the transition.”

OIS classes were canceled Tuesday, Sept. 29 to allow staff time to adjust to full distance learning.

Orono Schumann Elementary, Orono Middle School and Orono High School continued with current learning models.

Since the letter was sent out, there has been one more confirmed case, an individual at Orono High School. The district notified families and those in close contact with the individual. It was decided by the Minnesota Department of Health and the school district that no additional action was needed at Orono High School.

“The district has been carefully following health and safety guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health and national Centers for Disease Control,” Campbell said. “Extensive cleaning is part of the district’s daylong and after-school procedures. Orono’s district nurse and health office staff continually share updates and reminders focused on the importance of hygiene, proper face coverings, social distancing and staying home when any symptoms of illness emerge.”

Students and staff are asked to report any new symptoms of illness, known coronavirus test results or pending coronavirus test results to the school health office.

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