A staff member at Detroit Lakes High School has tested positive for COVID-19, which means that the high school will be moving to a full distance learning model for the next two weeks, rather than the hybrid model that had originally been approved for the start of classes at both the high school and middle school.

"We had a staff member test positive (for the virus) over the weekend," said Detroit Lakes Public Schools Superintendent Mark Jenson on Monday, Sept. 14. "No students were impacted (i.e., exposed)."

Jenson posted this message on the Detroit Lakes Public Schools Facebook page on Sunday:

Dear Detroit Lakes Families, We were notified by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) of a lab confirmed case of...

Posted by Detroit Lakes Public Schools on Sunday, September 13, 2020

As the person who tested positive had participated in workshops with several other high school staff members during the previous week, Jenson said, they simply did not have sufficient staff available to cover all of the exposed persons' duties while they were under quarantine. Therefore, the decision was made to move the high school from the hybrid model — combining in-person and distance learning — to a fully remote learning model for the duration of the quarantine period.

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"As of today, we are in full distance learning mode (at the high school) for this week only," Jenson said, but added that it would "most likely" extend through Sept. 25. However, if none of those who were in close contact with the person who tested positive were to test positive themselves, the quarantine may end sooner.

"We're working through the contact tracing right now," he added.

Because this state-mandated change in learning models took place over the weekend, the school district's administrative team elected to suspend Monday's classes at the high school to give the teachers a day to prepare for the shift.

"There are no classes at the high school today (Monday)," Jenson said. Distance learning for all high school students was scheduled to begin on Tuesday, Sept. 15.

"The state gives you (i.e., each school district) five 'pivot' days throughout the year," Jenson said, explaining that a pivot day is one where classes are suspended at one or more school buildings in the district to give staff sufficient time to prepare for a shift in learning models caused by coronavirus exposure.

Classes started Monday at the middle school, as expected, with teachers using the hybrid model. Classes at both Roosevelt and Rossman Elementary are set to start on Thursday, Sept. 17, with students attending classes in person. The first three days of the week, Monday through Wednesday, were spent in family-teacher conferences. Parents were asked to bring in each student for an in-person conference with his or her teacher, and the families were then given tours so they would know their way around the freshly remodeled facilities before the start of classes.

Jenson noted that the Detroit Lakes School Board would be meeting as scheduled Monday, Sept. 21, and no special meeting had been set to discuss these changes. He added that school board members had previously given the district administration team the authority to make decisions regarding day-to-day changes in learning models caused by COVID-19 exposure.