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District 88 meets guideline for in-person elementary, hybrid secondary education, as of now

NEW ULM — The New Ulm Schools are looking at a hybrid start to the school year. District 88 will be allowed to provide in-person learning for all elementary students and a combination of in-person and distance learning for the secondary students.

Thursday, Gov. Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Education released criteria for schools to open in the fall. Schools would open based on public health indicators for each county. The data is based on the number of positive cases in the county over 14 days.

At this time Brown County is at just over 10 contact cases for the previous 14-day period. Based on this information, New Ulm schools would be allowed to provide in-person learning for all elementary students and hybrid learning for all secondary students.

In an email sent to District 88 families, Superintendent Jeff Bertrang said the school will continue to analyze the data to decide on which learning plan will proceed. Other recommendations will be considered, such as positive cases with school-aged children, hot spots in communities, or whether the state decides to shut down again.

Each school in the district is designing plans based on the safety of staff and students, keeping families together on the days in school and providing equitable education for students. The district will work with families preferring to continue a distance learning model. The school will continue to provide social, emotional and mental health support for all and ensure students have access to technology, meals and teacher supports.

“We know that relationships are the most important part of what we do each day,” Bertrang said. “We plan to start the school year working on relationships, spending time working through many social and emotional issues that have been on our minds since March, and what we can all do together moving forward.”

In the next few weeks, each school building will finalize plans to support students and families. Information will be mailed to each family, including schedules.

Bertrang warned the learning model may need to change based on health experiences and recommendations from Public Health. Plans will be flexible based on the changing COVID environment. The district encouraged families to be ready with different plans depending on the situation, such as daycare options, meal access, medical needs and access to learning.

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