RED WING — All Red Wing Public Schools students will shift to full distance learning Monday, Nov. 16. Superintendent Karsten Anderson sent a districtwide message alerting parents shortly before 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5.
The announcement came approximately seven hours after the Minnesota Department of Education posted its 14-day case rate chart, which showed Goodhue County's rate at 34.19 for Oct. 11-24. MDE recommends — but doesn't require — that districts shift grades 7-12 to distance learning when numbers hit 30 or higher. MDE reports are always 12 days behind current trends to ensure that numbers are accurate.
"We are not aware of any students or staff members who have contracted COVID while at school, but community transmission of COVID continues to grow," Anderson said in the email to parents and staff.
He indicated that community COVID-19 rates and trends were factors in his decision, plus the limited availability of substitute teachers.
Goodhue County Health & Human Services also issued its weekly report late Thursday morning, showing 298 active cases and 888 cases since the pandemic reached Minnesota in March. Cases have skyrocketed about 330 cases in 14 days.
Based on the county's population of about 46,300, that puts the current projected case rate somewhere above 60 — and anything 50 or higher suggests that local districts should shift to full distance learning for all ages.
Currently, early childhood through fourth-grade students attend school in person, while grades 5-12 attend two days a week and have three online days. This model will continue through Friday, Nov. 13, Anderson said.
Nov. 16-20, all students will have distance learning. They will not have classes Nov. 23-25 — the three days before Thanksgiving break — to accommodate staff training for distance learning. Distance learning will resume Monday, Nov. 30, until further notice, according to the updated E-12 learning plan.
The first quarter ends Friday, Nov. 7.
Back in mid-August, the Red Wing School Board granted Anderson the ability to make learning models more strict. The district cannot return to a less strict model without board action.
"We want our students to return to in-person learning as soon as possible. Community COVID rates and trends will be regularly monitored while students are in distance learning, and the School Board reserves the right to make decisions about learning models at any time," an attachment to Anderson's email reads.