JANESVILLE — Another area school district is changing its planned fall learning model in response growing COVID-19 cases.
Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton Public Schools announced Thursday its high school students will have to learn from home full time to start their school year.
The district had planned to welcome back preschool through seventh graders full time and eighth through 12th graders part time under a hybrid model with half of the students attending each day.
Under the new model, preschool through sixth graders will be in school and older students will learn remotely.
All secondary sports practices and competitions and other activities also are being canceled while the distance model remains in place for the middle and high school students.
“We know this has an impact on families,” Supt. Kurt Stumpf said in a video message to families. “But we know this is the safest decision possible for our staff, for our students and for our community.”
The change is in response to a state data update released Thursday that showed Waseca County had the highest rate of COVID-19 cases in the state.
The county had nearly 38 cases of COVID-19 per 10,000 residents, according to the data based on tests collected between Aug. 9 and 22.
“This decision to change learning models is based upon the data. It is not taken lightly,” Stumpf said.
Waseca is one of only three counties across the state with a rate of over 30 per 10,000, which is the threshold at which the state recommends districts go to distance learning for secondary students.
As of Thursday evening, Waseca Public Schools had not announced any deviation from its plans to bring back all students part time.
New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva Public Schools, which is partially in Waseca County, announced a transition to a hybrid model for all students on Monday.
Multiple other area districts have announced changes to more restrictive models, including Le Sueur-Henderson and Tri-City United. Le Sueur County had nearly 37 confirmed COVID-19 cases per 10,000 residents between Aug. 9 and 22. That was the second highest rate in the state.