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School District 166
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ISD 166 going to distance learning after Thanksgiving

School District 166 held its regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, November 18, addressing a variety of issues. But as it has been since March, dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic was the primary topic of discussion.

Principal and acting superintendent Megan Myers noted that just about a week ago, ISD 166 was preparing to bring 4th- and 5th-graders back to school in the hybrid model. That decision was reversed on November 13 as the COVID-19 positivity rate increased in Cook County and those students remained in the distance learning mode.

Positivity rates have climbed since then. As of Nov. 18, Myers said the school district has 21 students and staff members either in isolation or quarantine at that time.

For those reasons, Myers said the School/Community Incident Command Team decided to begin distance learning for the kindergarten through 3rd-grade students as well.

Earlier in the day, the School District sent out a letter to families letting them know that as of November 30, the kindergarten through 3rd-grade students who have been on campus in a hybrid learning model will change to distance learning.

The plan is to bring the K-3 students back to school under the hybrid model on January 18.

In the letter, Myers wrote, “This is a preventive measure to help during this difficult time and to cause the least disruption to our learning model.”

Childcare at the school will continue for Tier 1 workers under the program for critical workers, however, families are encouraged to keep their children home if they have the ability to work from home themselves.

There was once again a discussion of the mental health of the students who are not able to attend school. Board Member Sissy Lunde, who is going off the school board in January, said she would like to see the school district find some way to get older students in school for face-to-face interaction with teachers and fellow students. She said the school needs them to have something to look forward to.

Principal Myers said that is something the Incident Command Team will look at during the 14-day break.

School Board Member Rena Rogers, who is part of the Incident Command Team in her role at Cook County and as a board member, said everyone is working to find a balance between what is best for students and what is safest.

In related news, Great Expectations School is changing its learning model, at least temporarily, after the Thanksgiving break. When school for GES students resumes on November 30, it will be in the distance learning model. GES expects to continue in the distance learning model until sometime in January.

Birch Grove Community School in Tofte has no plans at this time to change to a different learning model.

Oshki Ogimaag in Grand Portage also has no plans to change from its current in-person model for its kindergarten through 6th-grade students.