Challenges continue at Cloquet schools


September 18, 2020

The first day of school, Esko confirmed a case of Covid-19 in a secondary student. This week, Cloquet’s Churchill Elementary reported its first confirmed case — a student with exposure dates of Sept. 9-10.

Superintendent Michael Cary said school leaders worked with the Minnesota Department of Health and a Regional Support Team. The school did the contact tracing. They notified any students/staff “who are considered close contacts and need to quarantine as a result,” Cary said.

A letter sent to families, students and staff at Churchill advised families who were not identified as having close contact to still monitor for symptoms of illness but they did not need to stay home unless symptoms developed.

“The risk of exposure for other individuals present in the building on that date is no greater than the risk of contracting the virus in the general community,” the letter stated.

During Monday’s Cloquet school board meeting, Cary reported that students appear to be adapting to social distancing requirements at school. “I expect we are still in a honeymoon period,” he said.

The state’s number for the school district was at 9 positive cases per 10,000 people for last week, Cary said. If it stays below 10, the district will stay with all in-person classes. If the number jumps to between 10 and 20, the district would change to hybrid learning for grades 7-12. To keep from jumping between learning styles, Cary said they will probably require two weeks of lower numbers before switching back.

Cary said some families of students doing distance learning had called about bus routes, and wondered if they were considering sending children back to school.

“If families flex back and forth, it creates a whole new situation of how do we appropriately staff section sizes,” Cary said. “At this point I’m hoping that our families are consistent in staying with that model, at least for a period of time.”

Because the district has had to hire additional teachers to accommodate distance learning and additional staff for other pandemic measures, Cary said he expects the district may end the school year in the red, in part because government pandemic funds ($1.2 million have so many strings and timelines attached.


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