MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — On Thursday we learned districts will ultimately make their own decision on whether to begin the school year with in-person, distance or hybrid learning.
The state is offering recommendations based on localized COVID-19 data.
The Minnesota Department of Health’s recommendations is based on a county’s number of new COVID-19 cases per 10,000 residents over a 14-day period.
The map below contains recommendations for each school district in the state based on new cases per 10,000 people over the last 14 days.
Full distance learning is only recommended for a handful of districts in southwest Minnesota, represented in black, which includes Pipestone Area Schools and Murray County schools.
As you can see, the majority of districts are currently recommended starting the school year with in-person learning, or a combination of in-person and hybrid learning.
There are two things to keep in mind: one, the case rate is constantly changing, and what really matters are the numbers over the two to three weeks leading up to the first day of school. And two, this is only a recommendation. Each school district will ultimately make its own decision.
During his press conference on Thursday, Walz noted that school districts that serve students in multiple counties will be taking the county with the higher new cases per 10,000 residents over the same 14-day period to help guide their decisions.
What this means, for example, is that school districts like Mankato Area Public Schools will be using Blue Earth County data to make their decisions for fall, rather than data from Nicollet County.
As of Friday, the latest data from MDH showed Blue Earth County had 31.66 new cases per 10,000 residents over the last 14 days compared to Nicollet County’s 18.06. The difference between the two counties is significant enough that it could possibly mean elementary students in all Mankato Area Public Schools, including elementary schools located in Nicollet County, may begin the year with a hybrid model and secondary schools, which includes middle and senior high schools, could start with a distance learning approach.
Again, these are only recommendations from the state and do not indicate which approach the district will decide on.
Many school districts, like GFW, Fairmont Area Schools and Mankato Area Public Schools, will be taking the next few weeks to gather feedback from the community regarding the best learning method that prioritizes safety and maximizes the effectiveness of instruction within their communities and with the available resources in each district.