Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools is the latest Twin Cities school district to temporarily shift to virtual learning due to significant increases in COVID-19 case rates after returning from winter break.
The district will shift to distance learning starting Thursday, Jan. 13, the district said Monday. This will remain the case until at least Tuesday, Jan. 18, at which point another decision will be made on whether classes will return to in-person tuition.
In the district, 632 students have been reported absent from Jan. 3-10 due to a positive COVID-19 test or are in quarantine due to direct exposure to COVID in their household.
Two classrooms — one at Five Hawks and one at Glendale — already switched to distance learning this week due to a high number of cases in the classrooms. The district said several buildings have 5% student absences due to COVID.
Not only that, but 12% of the staff was absent on Monday. The district says staffing shortages are presenting "significant challenges to the day-to-day operations" of schools.
Students were in school on Tuesday but Wednesday there won't be school — the day will be used as a distance learning planning day. Distance learning will then be held Thursday, Friday, and on Tuesday. There is no school on Monday due to Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
"We believe these distance learning days, along with the existing non-student day on Jan. 17, will allow students and staff who are out due to illness to isolate and recover, and provide an opportunity for eligible students and staff to get a vaccine booster. PLSAS will be working to acquire more testing kits and PPE for staff," the district said.
Prior Lake-Savage does require indoor masking for all students, staff and visitors, regardless of vaccination status.
You can the district's entire message about the move to online learning here.
Also this week, Osseo Area Schools announced a move to distance learning due to an "extremely high number" of absences due to illness.
The latest information on the district website is for the week ending Jan. 3, which says there were 102 confirmed staff COVID-19 cases between Dec. 28 and Jan. 3, in addition to 264 confirmed student cases during that same period. It's unclear how many additional staff and student cases have been confirmed in the latest 7-day period.
Farmington Area Public Schools is shifting to "flexible learning" for the rest of the week due to many students and staff being out with COVID.
Fridley Public Schools transitioned to blended learning on Jan. 10 due to "a considerable increase in COVID cases that is affecting our ability to adequately staff our schools and provide consistent bus transportation."
Robbinsdale Area Schools shifted two of its schools to distance learning last week. And Minneapolis Public Schools was distance learning on Monday due to the cold and rising COVId numbers.
North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale schools has also made some changes. Tartan High School students began distance learning on Jan. 10 and North High School students began distance learning Jan. 7. They'll remain distance learning through Jan. 14, KSTP says.
Many other districts across the Twin Cities are dealing with a spike in COVID cases this month. Here's a look at some of the districts that post COVID case data on their websites:
- Burnsville-Eagan-Savage Scool District: 265 students and 33 staff tested positive for COVID for the week ending Jan. 8. Meanwhile, 756 students and 61 staff were quarantining due to exposure.
- Edina Public Schools: 144 early learning and elementary school students, 166 middle and high school students and 55 employees currently have confirmed cases of COVID. Meanwhile, 97 early learning and elementary students, 33 middle and high school students and five staff are quarantining due to exposure.
- Minnetonka Public Schools: 316 students and 57 staff currently have COVID-19.Meanwhile, 221 students and 31 staff and quarantining. The district's website shows a spike in cases during and after the winter break.