School reopening guidelines

The state released school learning model guidelines in late July. 

MANKATO — Mankato Area Public Schools will continue using the hybrid learning model after four cases of COVID-19 were confirmed among students or staff between Sept. 9-16.

The district has determined that one of those cases did not expose any one in the district. A person connected to West High School did not spend any time at the school while they had the virus, the district said Thursday.

The district now has had 23 confirmed cases since May. The district posts a weekly case update on its website every Thursday afternoon.

New data posted Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Health shows COVID-19 case rates per 10,000 residents was 57 in Blue Earth County and 13 in Nicollet County between Aug. 23 and Sept. 6. Blue Earth County had the third highest rate in the state for that time period; only Waseca and Winona counties were higher.

State guidelines suggest districts should operate in full-time distance learning when the rate for their primary county is 50 or over.

But Mankato Area Public Schools announced Thursday evening it will continue using a hybrid model for all grade levels.

“The chart provided by the Minnesota Department of Health is a guide, not the sole determining factor,” the announcement states. “Other factors come into play, including current infection rates in the county, local communities and school district (students and staff). The decision to continue with the hybrid learning model is based on all of these data points.”

The decision was made in consultation with local and state health officials, including Minnesota Department of Health Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresman.

“County, community and school district infection rates since the start of the school year are much lower than previous numbers and rates reflected in the MDH chart are expected to decline beginning next week,” the announcement states.

“The surge of case numbers in the data shared over the last two weeks is due to the return of college students to the area as well as the recent testing event that took place.”

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