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COVID In Minnesota: School Districts Look At Myriad Factors When Deciding To Switch Gears

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Osseo Area School students in sixth through 12th grades transitioned to a fully-distant education model Monday.

Shakopee Public Schools decided last week their middle and high schoolers would also go to distance learning.

Cassie Merrill has two children who attend Osseo Middle School.

"Part of me is relieved with COVID cases going up," Merrill said.

She thinks districts feel pressure from parents to keep children in school.

"There is tons of people, probably more people than that are not OK with going to distance learning," she said.

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The Minnesota Department of Health has a chart that shows the number of COVID-19 cases per 10,000 people living in a county over a period of two weeks, along with guidance for learning models. According to those numbers, schools in Steele County would be on the verge of a recommended learning model change.

Alysa Belting is a parent in Owatonna.

"I just want to keep everybody safe and I hope they do consider distance learning once they get to that threshold," Belting said.

Wright County's numbers would suggest elementary students should switch to a hybrid model and older students do distance learning. But Delano schools have not pivoted. That's because MDH takes several other factors into consideration when looking at learning models.

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Matt Schoen is superintendent of Delano Public Schools.

"A lot of people don't understand, and what we've tried to educate our parents is the county number was the only data set that we had at the beginning of the year," Schoen said.

He says local and state health officials recommended Delano Public Schools keep their current model, as there have been low cases in their schools and adequate staffing. The district continues to check in.

"There's been zero transmission in schools," Schoen said.

The latest data from MDH showed that there were 70 schools that had five or more COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks. No Wright County schools were on that list.

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