Cloquet waits for up-to-date numbers on Covid-19
August 14, 2020
As confirmed cases of Covid-19 continue to climb in Carlton County — rising by 15 over the last week — the Cloquet school district is still 10 days away from making a final decision on exactly how students will return to school in the fall.
If the case rate remains below 10 sick people per 10,000 residents, Cloquet schools will likely offer all classes in person. If they climb to between 10 and 20 per 10,000, kindergarten through sixth grade will attend school in person and grades 7-12 will start school in a hybrid scenario with both in-person and distance learning. All students will have to wear masks in school unless they are medically exempt.
During Monday’s Cloquet school board meeting, superintendent Michael Cary explained to board members that administrators chose to divide the elementary and secondary grade levels between the sixth and seventh grades.
“It keeps younger kids in the classroom, learning from their teachers, which we feel is best,” Cary said, adding that although grades 5-6 are part of the middle school, they will be kept separate from grades 7-8 as much as possible at school. Not intermingling students will also help keep rates of infection low, he said, explaining that they plan to have students eat lunch in their classrooms instead of the cafetera.
There is an important caveat to any school district decision. No matter the level of positive cases, any family in the district can choose distance learning.
Figuring out how to teach students in a classroom setting and those at home has been a challenge for school districts, and one that may be answered differently between elementary and secondary grades.
At the secondary level, Cary said they are leaning toward a model where teachers would stream lessons while lecturing and the students working from home would be directed to log in at the scheduled class time. Cary said offering the classes at a consistent time will help with any future transitions between in-person and distance learning.
At the elementary levels, schools will likely staff classrooms for in-person learning and have another teacher to support families and students through distance learning.
Bus routes are also being reorganized to pick up by grade level, keeping secondary and elementary students separated.
All grades are being divided into A, B and C groups in case the district goes to a hybrid model, keeping kids from the same household in the same group as their siblings so they would attend school on the same day.
The district received 1,985 surveys out of about 2,600. About 75 percent of respondents said they would send their children to school for all in-person learning and about 25 percent said they would keep children home.