Tri-City United High School, Montgomery

(File photo/southernminn.com)

Two weeks after moving to full in-person learning, Tri-City United High School is back to hybrid learning after COVID protocols have forced more than 100 students to quarantine.

TCU High School began their first day of hybrid learning on March 1 after an outbreak of COVID cases the week before. Seven high school students have contracted the virus while approximately 100 students were found to have been in close contact with them. There were zero reported cases of TCU staff members contracting the virus and none of the faculty have had to quarantine. With a fifth of the student population now quarantining, the school has been forced to move back into hybrid.

“We looked at the numbers and the data, and we want to make sure we provide an environment that keeps people safe and doesn’t impact the learning any further,” said Superintendent Lonnie Seifert. “The numbers came fairly quickly and we had to make a decision quickly. I feel we’ve made the appropriate decision based on the information that we have.”

The virus was not spread on school grounds, said Seifert. The virus was instead traced to community spread outside of school.

“It was situations of in the community where there were cases that were brought into the building,” said Seifert. “We have not found any cases where a student was positive and another student became positive while in the building. They were all outside of our building and they were brought in.”

Tri-City United K-8 schools are unaffected by the change. All schools, except the high school, will continue to remain in in-person learning. Under the hybrid model, high school students will return to alternating class schedules. While one half of the class is at school, the other half will be distance learning.

There is currently no set timeline for TCU high school to return to in-person learning. Seifert said that a proposal to reopen the school could be brought to the School Board when administration feels comfortable with in-person. At this time however, the district is monitoring the situation.

“We’re waiting to see with the quarantine if that ends up causing more active cases,” said Seifert. “We’re also just trying to monitor if any other active cases come out of the students that are still in the building. We’re just really monitoring the building numbers.”

“It will be a board decision when our administrative group feels its appropriate to approach the board. We’ll continue to update them with our numbers and if we have to have a special board meeting to make that decision we will, but at this point we really haven’t given families any timeline for when we’re going to make that decision.”

Reach Reporter Carson Hughes at 507-931-8575. ©Copyright 2021 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All Rights Reserved.

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