Support the Timberjay by making a donation.

Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Ely schools continue with in-person learning despite COVID-19 rate increase

Keith Vandervort
Posted 9/14/20

ELY – Despite rising cases of COVID-19 in this community, the Ely School District late last week decided to continue in-person learning for all students, at least for now, just a couple of days …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Ely schools continue with in-person learning despite COVID-19 rate increase

Posted

ELY – Despite rising cases of COVID-19 in this community, the Ely School District late last week decided to continue in-person learning for all students, at least for now, just a couple of days after the 2020-2021 school year started.

According to ISD 696 Superintendent Erik Erie, district employees and parents were notified late last Thursday that the bi-weekly coronavirus case rates in Greater St. Louis County ticked up substantially.

“Ely Public Schools utilize Greater St. Louis County Public Health data when looking at the ‘bi-weekly case rates for schools’ and (Thursday, Sept. 10) that number stood at 10.87.  Last week that data point was 4.87,” he wrote in his letter obtained by the Timberjay.

“The 4.87 number is what our Ely Safe Learning Plan Advisory Council (ESLPAC) looked at (Wednesday) at our weekly meeting,” he continued. “We are now moving those ESLPAC meetings to Thursdays to coincide with the weekly updates from St. Louis County Public Health.

ESLPAC administration and employee members met again last Thursday to review the data and devise action plans which included sending out the letter and additional communication to employees for further explanation.

“The message from St. Louis County Public Health acknowledged that the 10.87 number might spur school districts like Ely to consider moving to a Hybrid Learning model as it meets the MDE learning model parameters to do so,” Erie said.

“St. Louis County Public Health officials recommended that schools not make the shift from In-Person Learning to Hybrid Learning at this time, since the increase to 10.87 is being attributed to cases in long-term care facilities,” he said.  “Discussions with Essentia Health in Ely confirmed that some local cases were related to a long-term care facility.”

According to guidance from St. Louis County Public Health officials, “Outbreaks in the community occurring in a setting that does not have a strong connection to the school (e.g., long-term care facility, local religious institution or correctional facility) are unlikely to result in a recommendation to shift to a hybrid learning model. Our data analyst, Robert Prose, believes it would be a useful approach to use a 28-day incubation period for making decisions to change in between learning plans unless of course there was a local outbreak in the school or affiliated with a school event at which case the district would be advised to work with Local Public Health and MDH/MDE to change learning plans.” 

Erie told the Timberjay, “In other words, they don’t want us ping-ponging from one learning model to another and possibly returning back to the original model perhaps in the next week.”

School Superintendents along the Iron Range met with St. Louis County Public Health officials late last week to discuss the health data and related issues. “The St. Louis County Public Health officials affirmed their recommendation that schools should not move to a more restrictive Hybrid Learning model just based on the 10.87 bi-weekly case rate number,” Erie said. 

“Superintendents, including neighboring ISD 2142, planned to follow the St. Louis County Public Health recommendations and stay with In-Person Learning,” he added.  We will continue to consider guidance from St. Louis County Public Health, Minnesota Department of Education, Minnesota Department of Health, Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital , and Essentia Health as we evaluate what learning model Ely Public Schools will operate in.  Input from our students, families, and employees are also strongly considered and well represented on our Ely Safe Learning Plan Advisory Council.”

School board action is not required to change learning model plans. Erie was set to update the ISD 696 school board Monday night on the evolving situation.

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment