Distance Learning for Grades 6-12 Set for Nov. 16, Elementary Families Urged to Prepare

Distance Learning for Grades 6-12 Set for Nov. 16, Elementary Families Urged to Prepare
Posted on 11/06/2020

The South Washington County Schools (SoWashCo) Incident Command Team met on Friday, Nov. 6 to review the latest numbers related to COVID-19 in our schools and community. 

After receiving input and reviewing the data, Superintendent Julie Nielsen will continue with the plan to shift grades 6-12 to distance learning on Nov. 16. Due to the increased community spread of COVID-19 and staffing shortages, the team is urging elementary families and staff to prepare for the potential of moving to distance learning. At this time, elementary schools will remain in the hybrid learning model.

The latest numbers from the state’s formula for Washington County shows a 58.54 case rate. This number includes cases from the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Oak Park Heights which does not affect schools. As a result, Washington County Public Health has recalculated the data by removing prison case rates to show a community rate of 39.03. The state’s recommendation for case rates between 30 and 50 includes hybrid learning for elementary (K-5) and distance learning for secondary (6-12). Though positive cases in schools remain low, there has been a substantial increase since last week. View the SoWashCo COVID-19 dashboard here.

In addition to the county COVID-19 infection rates, there are multiple factors reviewed to determine if a learning model should change, including:

  • Staff and student absence/illness rates including absences for COVID-like symptoms, COVID-related symptoms or quarantines, and all other absStaffing availability and the ability to cover absences with substitute teachers
  • Success in the current learning model

  • Finding solutions to planning challenges before shifting to another learning model

The team also shared concerns about activities outside of school that may be contributing to the community spread, the growing need for hospital beds, the trend in county infection rates and staffing shortages at all levels. SoWashCo is committed to keeping its youngest learners in school as long and as safely as possible. 

Staff, students and families play an important role in helping our schools stay open for in-person learning opportunities. With cases increasing, it is important to closely follow health and safety protocols including not gathering in large groups.

The Incident Command Team is scheduled to meet again on Friday, Nov. 13.