Students step out of their bus and onto the grounds of Sonnesyn Elementary School in New Hope Jan. 19, 2021. The district reopened schools for in-person learning following several months of distance learning due to the pandemic.

Every school within the Robbinsdale Area Schools system will close to students for one week, district officials reported Thursday morning.

The decision comes amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in the county, state and across the nation. School officials say due to the spike, absences among staff and students have been rising rapidly.

“We had hoped to continue with in-person learning without disruption, but many of our staff have tested positive or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19,” officials wrote in a release. “The number is rising daily within our district and in the community. We simply can’t provide adequate in-person learning or services with our growing level of staff absences.”

All students will begin learning from home using district-approved devices Friday, Jan. 14. Coincidentally, that day was a previously scheduled digital learning day. Students are expected to return to in-person learning Tuesday, Jan. 25.

Students will not have school Monday, Jan. 17, due to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and Monday, Jan. 25, due to a previously-scheduled staff workshop day.

All activities and athletics for students below the high school level will be canceled. High school athletics and activities will continue as scheduled. Students that choose to participate in practices, games and events are expected to arrive at their school of own accord; activity buses will run for return trips home.

Previous two closures

Last week, the district opted to close Robbinsdale Cooper High School in Plymouth and Sandburg Middle School in Golden Valley to students due to an especially high number of absences from students and staff due to COVID-19 positive cases and suspected exposures.

Assistant Superintendent Marti Voight said at the time of the decision, both buildings had surpassed daily absences of more than 5% of students and staff.

The middle and high school students were originally expected to resume in-person learning Tuesday, Jan. 18.

During the shift, many activities continued without cancellation and buildings remained accessible to staff members who did not have COVID-19 or were not expressing illness.

At the time, the district reported that future shifts to in-person learning could be decided for individual classrooms or grade levels within a school as needed. A spokesperson said the decision to halt in-person learning at schools is made on a case-by-case basis due to each building’s unique “size and circumstance.”

Voight confirmed at the time that neither the state nor CDC offered explicit indication to close the two schools to students.

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