With the Labor Day holiday weekend coming up, the Detroit Lakes School Board has decided to err on the side of caution when adopting a base learning model for the start of the 2020-21 school year.
Superintendent Mark Jenson noted at a special Monday school board meeting that the number of active COVID-19 cases in Becker County had fallen to 9.48 per 10,000 — slightly below the 10 cases per 10,000 threshold required for the state to allow in-person learning for all students in the district — as of last Thursday, Aug. 20.
However, he added, statistics released by the Minnesota Department of Health earlier in the summer clearly showed a notable spike in active cases after the July 4 holiday weekend — and there will likely be a similar uptick after Labor Day.
With that in mind, the board voted unanimously in favor of a learning model that would allow in-person classes for all elementary students, while secondary students would start off the year with a hybrid combination of in-person and distance learning.
Jenson also reiterated an earlier statement that, according to state-mandated coronavirus restrictions, masks must be worn by all students, staff and visitors, saving those with medical exemptions, while inside public school buildings this fall.
Classes at Detroit Lakes Public Schools are scheduled to begin Monday, Sept. 14. Also at Monday's special meeting, the board adopted a 2020-21 school calendar that included a couple of notable concessions to the coronavirus pandemic.
Jenson said that the calendar would eliminate all scheduled late starts for morning classes, at the request of teachers. In addition, two scheduled teacher in-service days on Sept. 8 and Jan. 18 will now be virtual rather than in-person, he added.