With the school district’s communities now breaking barriers put in place last August by the Minnesota Department of Health, ISD 728 leaders decided it could no longer put off a change in its learning model, according to a letter shared by staff Monday, Oct. 26.
ISD 728 Superintendent Dan Bittman made the announcement via a “town hall” virtual meeting with staff, then with an announcement at the regular meeting of the school board Monday night: elementary students would transition to a Hybrid Model that is already being utilized by the district’s secondary students, effective Nov. 16.
“It’s a hard decision,” Bittman said. “It creates a difficult situation for many families. But the data and guidance tells us this is a necessary change. We can’t just set our own course. We have to do what the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Department of Education have instructed us to do during this pandemic.”
ISD 728, based in Elk River, serves communities in Wright County, including Otsego, St. Michael and Albertville.
Activities, such as sports, would not be impacted at this time. Bittman said he hopes the full-hybrid model can be in place until the Spring Trimester.
It wasn’t met without resistance. “Kids learn better in person” one parent said on social media. “This sets my child up for failure. Thank you very much,” said another.
However, guidelines have been in place since the start of the school year. According to MDE/MDH the following criteria should be used for learning models, using the number of cases per 10,000 residents by county over a two-week period:
- 0-10 cases: All students may participate in in-person learning (In-Person model)
- 10-20 cases: All elementary age students may be in-person/all secondary students (middle and high school) will utilize a hybrid system (Hybrid model) created by their District.
- 20-30 cases: All students will utilize the District-developed Hybrid model.
- 30-50 cases: All elementary age students will use the Hybrid model, while secondary students will move to full Distance Learning.
- 50 cases per 10,000 residents and higher: All students will utilize Distance Learning.
All counties served by ISD 728 – including Wright – are above 25 at this time. Wright County in the last month has soared from less than 20 cases per 10,000 to averaging more than 30.
The district said it would continue to communicate with families about such things as child care, transportation, meal services and more up to the Nov. 16 model change date.