Throughout Wadena County, school districts have transitioned middle/high school students to distance learning due to the increase in COVID-19 cases in the community as well as staffing concerns due to quarantining. Area sports activities have also seen many cancellations.
Superintendents remind parents and guardians to have students stay home with symptoms and also for students to stay home if a household member is being tested for COVID-19. If a household member tests positive, the household will need to quarantine. Local hospitals, county health departments and school nurses can provide further guidance.
Community members are also encouraged to wear masks, social distance, limit social gatherings and practice good hand hygiene to help limit the spread of the virus and allow children to have in-person learning.
"It (distance learning) is not the best model of education but it's the safest model for our staff, students and community members," said Bertha-Hewitt Superintendent Eric Koep in a video on Nov. 12.
As of Nov. 13 the local district updates are:
- Bertha-Hewitt: Koep announced students in Pre-K-6th grade will remain in-person from Nov. 16-Jan. 8 and 7-12th grade students will remain in distance learning for the same time period. Students can still receive free meals during this time; call 218-924-2500 to reserve a meal.
- Menahga: While things can change for districts quickly, Superintendent Kevin Wellen said in a message on Nov. 13 that all students will be returning to in-person learning on Monday, Nov. 16. "It is the low rate of positive tests in the school system that allow us to continue even with numbers in the counties continuing to grow," Wellen said in the message.
- New York Mills: In a Facebook post on Nov. 12, Superintendent Blaine Novak discussed the goal of the district is to have all students return to in-person learning on Nov. 30, dependent on COVID-19 numbers as well as Otter Tail County Public Health and the school's regional support team recommendations. Since the start of the school year, 8 staff members and 16 students have tested positive for COVID-19 and 51 staff members and over 380 students have been out due to coronavirus related conditions.
- Sebeka: In a video on Nov. 12, principal Amie Westberg shared expectations, details on classes and schedules for 7-12th grade students in distance learning. Distance learning will not be like the spring. Students will be logging in daily for their classes and attendance. A Google Classroom parent guide and teachers' websites can be found on the school website.
- Staples-Motley: "Our goal this year is to have students learning in-person as much as possible while minimizing the risks of COVID-19 amongst our students, staff and community. We hope the adjustments at the Middle/High School over the next two weeks will help us 'reset' and enable us to return to our current hybrid model on November 30," Superintendent Shane Tappe said in a message on Nov. 13. If you have questions about your student attending school based on symptoms or other household members being tested for COVID-19, call district nurse Kristy Brownell at 218-894-5400 extension 3163.
- Verndale: 7-12th graders start distance learning on Monday, Nov. 16. Free meals can also be picked up between 1:30-3:15 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays at the main door; sign up online or call Vickie at 218-445-5184 extension 315 with questions. In a Facebook post on Nov. 13, K-12 school counselor Katie Tackmann discussed supporting children and adolescents' mental health including how to support and signs and symptoms to watch for.
- Wadena-Deer Creek: Students in 7-12th grade begin distance learning on Monday, Nov. 16. Principal Tyler Church outlined the schedule, expectations and materials needed in a message to parents and guardians on Nov. 12. "As we have seen an increase in the number of positive cases in our school and the need to quarantine a number of students and staff due to contact tracing, we have determined this is the best option for our school at this time," Church said in the message. During the distance learning time, the school still needs to know if a student has had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 or if the student tests positive; call Leanne Johnson at 218-632-2347.