According to the state’s plan for sending children back to school, Beltrami and Koochiching County may need to start the school year off with a hybrid model, while every other nearby county may be able to send students to full in-person classes.
According to the localized plan announced yesterday afternoon, the recommendations from the state are centered on a new case rate, which is based on new COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days per 10,000 people. Beltrami’s rate is currently 2o.6, and Koochiching’s rate is 25.31.
Cass County, Hubbard County, Itasca County, Lake of the Woods County, Mahnomen County, Clearwater County and Roseau County have low enough case rates to fully return students to the classroom this fall.
Until yesterday, the case rate in Koochiching County and Beltrami County was also low enough to return students to the classroom, but a rapid increase in new cases changed the rate for the Minnesota Department of Health’s biweekly figures.
The full PDF is available here.
These rates could change, either higher or lower, before school starts on Sept. 8. All students will have an opportunity to continue distance learning if families choose that, even if their school can fully return to in-person classes.
Superintendent of Bemidji Area Schools joined Bemidji Now’s Larissa Donovan for a brief interview for the KBHP/KBUN on-air Chat About program. Listen here to hear what he has to say about Gov. Tim Walz’s announcement.
Superintendent Lutz also issued this press release today:
“Yesterday, the Governor announced the Safe Learning Plan for the 2020-2021 school year. Under the Safe Learning Plan, school districts will be able to start school under the Learning Model determined by the COVID-19 bi-weekly case rate by county of residence. Currently, Beltrami County’s COVID-19 bi-weekly case rate would allow Bemidji Area Schools to open the 2020-2021 school year under a Hybrid Learning Model for all students.
“We know from our recent parent survey that a majority of parents would like to see their students return to In-Person Learning. As educators, we know that getting our students back in school every day working with our incredibly talented staff is the best option for their educational and social/emotional growth and development. However, we need to ensure that we are providing instruction in a manner that protects the health and safety of ALL students and staff.
“Therefore, we are asking for your help! In order to have an opportunity to consider a less restrictive Learning Model, the COVID-19 bi-weekly case rate in Beltrami County must be reduced…..and in a very short period of time. Please do what you can to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community! Please follow the CDC and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidelines, which include, social distancing, wearing a mask when in public, and washing and sanitizing your hands frequently. The actions we take now WILL have a significant impact on how we can safely get students and staff back in school.
“Bemidji Area Schools has always had amazing support from our community! Thank you for your past support and thank you for helping support our efforts to ensure our students and staff have a safe and healthy educational environment.”