by Jeffrey Hage
Elementary schools within the Monticello School District have moved to hybrid learning models due to a rising number of coronavirus cases in Wright County.
Eastview Education Center moved from an in-person learning model to a hybrid model beginning Wednesday, Nov. 11. Little Mountain Elementary and Pinewood Elementary moved to a hybrid model on Thursday, Nov. 12.
It is suggested that school districts follow a model based on cases of COVID-19 per 10,000 residents within their home county when making decisions about school attendance.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, 0-10 cases over the past 14 day period would suggest students can attend school in person. Ten to 20 cases per 10,000 residents would suggest in-person learning for elementary school students and hybrid learning for middle school and high school students. If there are 20-29 cases of COVID-19, elementary, middle school, and secondary school students should follow a hybrid education model, while 30-49 cases suggest a hybrid model at the elementary school level and distance learning at the middle- and high school levels. In a county with 50 or more cases of COVID-19, students at all levels should be participating in a distance learning model of education, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
In the most recent window of reporting cases of the coronavirus, which was October 11-24 and reported on Thursday, Nov. 4, Wright County reported 42.19 cases of COVID-19 per 10,000 residents, suggesting that n Monticello, elementary students go to a hybrid model while middle school and high school students switch to distance learning. However, in Monticello, the middle school and high school will continue to employ the hybrid learning model for the time being.
That’s in part, because, while County numbers are increasing, numbers are stable within the Monticello Schools environment.
But School Board President Jill Hoffman noted at the Monday, Nov. 9 meeting of the Monticello School Board, “We will be at distance learning sooner than we had planned.”
School District leaders had a meeting last week with representatives of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). It was a check-up, of sorts, to review the learning models the school district was operating under.
Barb Wilson, the school district’s director of human services, told school board members at their Nov. 9 meeting that the MDH officials noted that the District was doing all it can to protect the safety of students and staff.
According to Wilson, MDH officials shared the following quote: ““We are sandbagging a river and eventually the river will likely overrun the barrier. This doesn’t mean you have done anything wrong - just continue to prepare for distance learning while you remain in session.”
With that said, Wilson noted that, with rising county numbers, the Monticello School District’s goal remains to stay in school as long as it is possible and safe.
But as Supt. Eric Olson noted, “County numbers change quickly, which means school plans may be changing quickly, as well.”
Especially as cases of COVID-19 in Wright County continue to climb, he said.
“We all must continue to do everything we can to keep COVID out of our school buildings. That’s why we are changing to the hybrid model,” Olson stated in his most recent communication to school district stakeholders.
Reach Jeff Hage at email@example.com