WHS students with masks (copy) (copy)

Waseca Public School students kindergarten through 12th grade are moving to distance learning starting on Nov. 30. The students will stay in this COVID-19 status level red, distance learning, until at least mid-December when the school administration looks at more data to make a decision. (Bailey Grubish/southernminn.com)

Waseca Public Schools will switch to COVID-19 status level red and distance learning for kindergarten through 12th grade beginning Monday, Nov. 30 due to rising COVID-19 cases in the county.

The county’s 14-day case rate per 10,000 has increased to nearly 100 for the range of Oct. 31- Nov. 14, according to Superintendent Eric Hudspith’s email to families.

The school administration plans to review the data for the county again in mid-December to determine a potential return date to school for students.

“In working with our Public Health, Minnesota Department of Health and the Department of Education, the recent trend in our county is COVID-19 is rapidly increasing in Waseca County,” Hudspith wrote. “We also are seeing an increase in students and staff needing to be quarantined and we have had a small number of cases in our buildings, so at this time it’s appropriate to move to distance learning.”

Students in kindergarten through 12th grade will continue with hybrid learning through Nov. 23, followed by no school on Nov. 24 and 25 to allow staff to plan and prepare for distance learning to begin after Thanksgiving.

“We understand that distance learning presents challenges and many facets for students, families and staff to work through, Hudspith wrote, adding that more details will be given to families on Thursday, Nov. 19.

Waseca Public Schools have not made a decision on extracurricular activities because it is waiting on guidance from the Minnesota State High School League and from the Minnesota Department of Health, and will share updates when it’s possible.

According to Hudspith’s email, child care for kindergarten through sixth grade will be provided for Tier 1 workers only beginning Tuesday, Nov. 24, per Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order. More children will be allowed if there is room for more children and proper staff available, but the administration will contact the families.

Preschool will remain in the hybrid learning model moving forward at this time. For more information on childcare or preschool, contact the community education office.

“I would say that Waseca Public Schools has done an exceptional job at keeping the students and staff as safe as it can at mitigating the virus,” Hudspith said.

Hudspith stated in his email that there will be some in-person learning for certain students, such as those with special learning needs or those with classes that require hands-on experiences.

While in distance learning, meals will be served daily at the curbside sites at no cost to students.

“This has been a very difficult decision, as we know our work impacts not only students, but staff and the community as a whole,” Hudspith wrote. “Our hope is that this time provides us the opportunity to engage our students in a new way, and to diminish the spread of the virus to a point where we can re-enter safely as soon as possible.”

More information and updates will be discussed at the Waseca Public School board meeting on Thursday, Nov. 19 at 5:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center. This is also available on Facebook to watch live online.

Reach Reporter Bailey Grubish at 507-837-5451 or follow her on Twitter @wcnbailey. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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