Starting Tuesday, Sept. 29, students will alternate in-person learning with online option

Independent School District (ISD) 318 made the decision this week to move into a hybrid model of learning for it’s middle and high school students. The decision comes as Itasca County has seen a continual increase in COVID-19 cases in the ISD 318 area.

According to a message sent out to families this week from ISD 318 Superintendent Matt Grose, hybrid learning will begin Tuesday, Sept. 29. Middle and high school students will not have in-person school Monday, Sept. 28 to give teachers time to plan and implement their hybrid lesson plans. ConnectED students are not affected by the change and will have school, as usual, this Monday.

“This decision was made by reviewing the 14-day trend data, which shows an increase in cases per 10,000 people in Itasca County,” states Grose in his message to families. “These case numbers have put us within the Governor’s parameters for hybrid learning at the secondary level. We made this decision with input from our Learning Model Advisory Team and consulted with officials at Itasca County Public Health and the Minnesota Department of Health who are in full support of our learning plan.”

The move to a hybrid model for grades 6-12 in Grand Rapids and 7-12 in Bigfork will allow for additional space in classrooms and common areas of the school buildings, therefore creating more space for physical distancing. Students will be divided into two groups, Group A and Group B. Group A will be in-person Mondays and Thursdays, while Group B will be in-person Tuesdays and Fridays. All middle and high school students will attend remotely on Wednesdays. While students are not in-person they will be distance learning from home with their same teacher.

At this point, ISD 318 is still able to offer in-person learning for its elementary students and through the hybrid model for its upper-level classrooms. This could change if COVID-19 cases in Itasca County continue to rise. If elementary grades are moved to a hybrid model, students will be in the same group for in-person learning as their older siblings.

Even if the COVID-19 case rate drops in Itasca County, the school district must wait at least two to three weeks before returning their students to a fully in-person learning model. ISD 318 will be working with Itasca County Public Health to review the spread of COVID-19 in the community and its impact on schools to determine when it would be appropriate to return to in-person learning.

“Thank you so much for your understanding,” said Grose. “We hope that by working together our community can slow the spread of COVID-19 and we can return to in-person as soon as possible.”

A calendar of in-person days is available on the ISD 318 website, along with additional information regarding the ISD 318 Return to Learn Plan at https://www.isd318.org/Page/463. Parents have been notified which group their student is in, as of Friday afternoon, via email or phone.

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