Beginning Monday, Oct. 5, Kasson-Mantorville secondary students - grades 7 through 12 - moved into a hybrid-learning model because of an increase in the number of COVID 19 cases in the county, explained Dodge and Steele County Public Health Director Amy Caron. Over a weekend in late September, 21 new cases were identified in Dodge County and that included eight students who are from 5 through 18 years old. The infected students attend schools in more than one district. There are three districts in the county.
Caron said that Triton Schools began the school year in a learning model of all elementary students in person, with high school in hybrid. This is also their current model. Hayfield Schools are using a learning model with all students in all grades in person.
Before that increase, the county’s infection rate was less than 10 percent which, according to state mandates, allows in-person learning at county school districts.
“We stayed under the 10 rate per 10,000 for many weeks,” she said.
Then, the county hit a rate of 11.17 for the period between Aug. 30 to Sept. 12. And, the rate jumped to 21.38 for the two-week period ending Sept. 19.
The infection rate is defined as the number of cases over a period of 14 days for every 10,000 people.
Caron explained that she and the county’s school district superintendents meet at least weekly and review this rate, the infections in the schools, and in the different communities for the previous 14 days.
It was nice to start the year with in-person learning, she explained, so students could meet their teachers and classmates, but this recent jump is an indicator that it’s time to more carefully socially distance the students. The hybrid-learning model ensures that only half the students are in the schools at the same time and are thus more easily able to maintain social distances of six feet or more.
Caron understands the value of in-person learning; she’s the daughter of a superintendent of schools. However, her number one priority has been and will always be, the health and safety of the children.
Staff at the Public Health Department have been working continuously to trace the spread of the virus from patients who tested positive and from those results, it is apparent students have been infected by other students, as well as at family gatherings and community events in recent weeks.
Caron stresses, if you or your children have two of the symptoms, don’t send children to school and get them tested.
For Dodge County residents, testing is available in Owatonna and in Rochester at the Mayo Health Systems drive throughs. There is no cost for the tests.
COVID 19 symptoms are listed here: http://www.co.dodge.mn.us/Public_Health_Pictures/isitcovid.pdf