Tuesday, July 16, 2024

K-M secondary students begin hybrid learning model Monday

Because of a significant increase in coronavirus cases in Dodge County, Kasson-Mantorville students in grades 7-12 will transition to a hybrid learning model on Monday, Oct. 5. To prepare for the change, tomorrow, Friday, there will be no classes for secondary students.

The school board made the decision in a special meeting Monday night after school administrators and the school’s Advisory Committee heard updates earlier in the day from several individuals including Amy Caron, public health director for Dodge County.

Supt. Mark Matuska said Caron had addressed the Advisory Committee meeting Monday morning and that superintendents from Hayfield, Kasson-Mantorville and Triton also discuss the situation with her every Monday afternoon.

Caron told both groups that positive numbers have risen drastically in the last couple of weeks and indications are that those increases will continue. It was her recommendation that all county schools at the least switch their secondary students to a hybrid learning model where half the students would be in the classroom at one time and the other half would be doing distance learning.

Triton schools have been following this model since the beginning of the school year while Hayfield and Kasson-Mantorville have had in-class learning for all students in the district. All parents have had the option to request distance learning for their children.

Matuska told board members after talking with Caron and getting the latest numbers from her Monday afternoon his recommendation was to make the switch to hybrid learning.

It now appears, Matuska said, that transmission of the coronavirus is happening at school but also as a result of community events and private events that students are at when they are not in school.

“Those people don’t understand their behaviors can affect us here at school,” he said, regarding the out-of-school events.

He also said there are still parents who are sending their children to school when they are symptomatic and should be home. “People need to trust our nursing staff,” he said.

The board discussed several other possible options including having all students on a hybrid schedule or kindergarten through fourth grade continuing in person learning while the rest of the students moved to a hybrid model.

There were concerns about younger students being on a hybrid schedule, especially fifth and sixth graders, as some of those students would have no one at home to supervise them and help with learning when not in class. For the youngest students, the school district would be responsible for day care when they were not actually in class.

There were also some concerns from teachers about the difficulty in teaching in the current mode when they were trying to accommodate students in class, students who opted to do all distance learning and students who were doing distance learning for a short time because they were in quarantine.

One difference between all in person learning and a hybrid model is that in a hybrid model when there are fewer students in class at one time they must observe the six foot distance between students as well as mask wearing. In a in-person situation the students are not always able to maintain that six foot distance.

Administrators and staff will spend Friday finalizing the plans for the new model and parents are being notified as to how it will affect their students.

Over the weekend there were 21 new cases and eight were five-to-18-years old. When the Minnesota Department of Health announces it weekly school district report on Thursday, Matuska wrote in a letter to Advisory Council members Tuesday, it is expected the figures for the Sept. 6-19 time frame will show 42 cases with a case rate per 10,000 residents in Dodge County of 20.17 cases.

Public Health reported there is now reason to believe there is “in-school” transmission as well as from community events and household events. Household events are suspected in two communities (school-age children) and are expected to drive even higher numbers, Matuska wrote.

On Monday, he said, nearly 40 students, mostly student athletes and those taking the ACT, decided flex was going to be their learning model going forward. There were also two additional positive cases at the high school bringing the total to five in the past four school days.


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