Distance learning in Shakopee to continue through at least Jan. 15

All students attending Shakopee Public Schools will continue in the distance learning model through at least Jan. 15, according to the most recent recommendation from the district’s Pandemic Response Advisory Team.

Superintendent Mike Redmond will present the recommendation to the school board at its Monday night meeting.

Shakopee students in the IHD (in-person, hybrid, distance) learning model transitioned from the every-other-day hybrid model to full-time distance on Nov. 23, at the height of the most recent covid-19 surge.

As of the week of Nov. 30, there had been 193 confirmed covid cases among students and district staff in the 13 weeks since school started. However, more than 100 of those cases were confirmed between Nov. 9 and the week of Nov. 30.

Minnesota Department of Education recommends full-time distance learning for secondary students in counties with more than 30 cases per 10,000 residents, and full-time distance learning for elementary students in counties with more than 50 cases per 10,000 cases.

MDE releases these numbers as a rolling 14-day average, but the data lags by two weeks so the latest report issued Dec. 10 accounts for the two-week period of Nov. 15-28. In that time period, Scott County had an average of 152.89 cases per 10,000 residents.

Shakopee school administrators monitor the unofficial case count per 10,000 residents by dividing the number of Scott County covid cases for two weeks by 149,013, which is the county population. According to this formula, Scott County is sitting at about 109 cases per 10,000 in the first two weeks of December.

Data journalist David Montgomery of MPR News reported Monday that if the trend of declining cases continues at its current rate, the state’s average daily new cases will be back to pre-surge levels before Christmas.

While the MDE’s guidelines are a driving factor in determining which learning model to use, there are other factors at play as well, including staffing levels in the schools. The week of Nov. 9, as the district was making plans to transition to distance learning, more than 400 students and staff were quarantined due to having close contact with confirmed cases, awaiting test results of close contacts, or experiencing symptoms themselves.

According to Redmond’s presentation materials for Monday’s meeting, other factors in determining a learning model switch include:

  • Strength of trend in cases per 10,000 residents
  • Future stability of current level of cases per 10,000 residents
  • Daily case rates in Scott County and Minnesota
  • School case rates vs. county case rates
  • Testing rates in Minnesota
  • Percent of positive tests
  • Consultation and approval of learning model plan by Regional Support Team (MDH/MDE/Scott County)

The district’s Pandemic Response Advisory Team is scheduled to meet four times between now and Jan. 14.

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