by Mike Knaak
All Sartell-St. Stephen schools will switch to distance learning starting Monday, Nov. 16, the district announced. Distance learning will continue until at least Dec. 4, said Krista Durrwachter, director of human resources.
Students in grades three through 12 will be off on Friday, Nov. 13, so teachers can plan for the transition. Pre-kindergarten through second-graders are already in distance learning mode.
When classes move to distance learning, high school activities and athletics will continue in person. Spectators will not be allowed beginning Monday, Nov. 16. In-person Middle School activities will stop.
Increased community spread of Covid-19 forced the move.
“It’s so rampant in our community,” Durrwachter said.
The district is facing staff shortages because of quarantine due to close contact or infections.
“We are at a tipping point where community spread is rampant,” Durrwachter said. “Even though we continue to see low transmission rates in our students, there is a surge in community transmission rates. We believe moving to distance learning is the safest decision for our students and staff.”
According to a Covid-19 dashboard posted on the district’s website, there have been 22 student cases and 12 staff cases during the last 14 days.
Public health and school leaders hope during the distance learning period, community spread will slow. Community spread, case rates and the number of people quarantined among staff will continue to be monitored to inform a decision about what happens after Dec. 4
“Maybe this can stop that upward trend and get our kids back to school, “Durrwachter said. “We want them in school, but it’s unsustainable to staff buildings. We worry about the safety of our staff.”
Durrwachter asked people to wear masks and practice social distancing.