Bemidji Schools not yet changing learning models

Superintendent Tim Lutz says that while Beltrami County’s daily case rates are concerning, the district is not looking at changing learning models, at least not yet.

Right now, Bemidji elementary students are attending full in-person classes, with middle and high schoolers are using a hybrid model.

State guidance says for counties with a case rate of under 10, all students could attend in person classes. In counties with case rates of 10 to less than 20, they recommend in-person for elementary and hybrid for middle and high school. With case rates between 20 and less than 30, hybrid is recommended for all learners; for case rates between 30 and less than 50, hybrid for elementary and distance learning for the upper grades; and for case rates of over 50, distance learning for all grades.

Beltrami’s latest case rate average, according to the Minnesota Department of Health, was 10.19.

On Tuesday, the Beltrami County Public Health board met and discussed the local COVID situation, reporting over 100 active cases within the county, with 13 Beltrami residents hospitalized at that time.

According to an email sent to Bemidji Now, the official data the district consults is the 14-day rolling case rate averages for counties, updated each Thursday by the MDH.

“That number will undoubtedly rise this Thursday when the new weekly numbers come out, but even then, we are not bound simply by either of these raw and objective numbers,” said Lutz.

The district is also looking at the sources of the COVID numbers and in what age ranges. Most of the cases in Beltrami County are in adults ages 20 to 39 and older, with very few cases among students aged 5 to 18.

Lutz explained this in an email to parents last Friday.

“A change in models is not necessarily warranted or recommended right away especially since, according to public health, we have not had community spread outbreaks in our schools, and because what we are doing is working.”

“Granted, as the MDH numbers catch up, we will need to keep looking at our situation.  My hope is that the numbers begin to slow down and reverse, but with colder weather on the way, that may not be likely, so at some point in time, distance learning will probably be on the horizon.”


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