Triton Public Schools in southeast Minnesota has switched to full-on distance learning because an estimated 5% of its enrollment has tested positive for COVID-19.
The district consolidates the towns of Claremont, Dodge Center and West Concord and has an enrollment of 1,117 students. Five percent of the enrollment equates to approximately 55 students testing positive for the coronavirus, which is transmitting at high levels everywhere in Minnesota.
"We saw a quick rise in our COVID numbers and it went above the 5% threshold that we would use for any other type of illness as an indicator to close school," Superintendent Craig Schlichting told Bring Me The News.
"With that said, we felt that it would be best to have two distance learning days to finish the week. We have a scheduled teacher workshop day on Monday and will return to school on Tuesday. We have made a couple of adjustments to our Safe Learning Plan that will require household contacts to quarantine. In discussion with our nursing staff, we feel that this will help keep our numbers below the 5% level."
Schools are no longer required to report learning model changes to the Department of Education the way they were required to last year under the peacetime emergency. But a spokesperson from the education department said at least two other schools briefly made a similar switch to full-on distance learning after outbreaks: Minneapolis Edison High School and Chisholm's Vaughan Steffensrud Elementary School.
According to the Dodge County Public Health, there were 17 kids who tested positive for COVID-19 between Oct. 24-30, including four children ages 0-4, four aged 5-11 and nine aged 12-18.
Statewide, the Minnesota Department of Health reported nearly 3,000 new cases on Wednesday, along with 43 deaths. Hospitalizations are also on the rise again, topping 1,000 (1,004 to be precise) in Wednesday's report.