School districts in Wadena County have transitioned learning models for middle/high school students, including Verndale Public Schools 7-12th graders beginning distance learning on Monday, Nov. 16. Students in pre-K-6th grade will remain in-person.

"The number of cases of Covid-19 has started to impact our school community," said Superintendent Paul Brownlow in a letter to parents and guardians on Nov. 11. "We have strived to keep students in our building by following the safety measures that were recommended by the CDC, MN Department of Health, and the MN Department of Education. Unfortunately, our efforts have not been enough to prevent the number of students and staff needing to be quarantined at a manageable level."

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Students will connect with their teachers using Zoom, Google Classroom, Moodle and email to continue their academic progress. If you do not have sufficient internet service, please contact the school office to reserve a hotspot.

The learning model will be in place until at least Monday, Nov. 30. While COVID-19 case numbers and the learning model will be reassessed weekly, the model may need to be extended for a longer period of time if there is no reduction in case activity in the school community, according to Brownlow.

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Free meals can be picked up; contact the food service department at 218-445-5184 extension 315 if you plan to use this service.

Support services will also be available for all students during this challenging time. If your child needs additional academic support or you have concerns about your child's mental health, please contact the school office to inquire about these services.

Athletic activities will continue to be held because there has been no direct impact on any of the sports teams currently. This will continue to be monitored and may change if there is a direct correlation with COVID-19 and the sports programs.

"We understand that this is not ideal and brings challenges for many families. However, we need to take necessary action to keep our students and staff safe," Brownlow said in the letter.