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Fairmont Area returning to hybrid learning

FAIRMONT — Fairmont Junior/Senior High School will return to a hybrid learning model today.

Superintendent Joe Brown said the Minnesota Department of Health has determined that Fairmont High School is eligible to return to a hybrid model today, with the elementary school possibly returning to a hybrid model on Oct. 26. The regional support team will continue to work with Faribault and Martin County Human Services to monitor and evaluate the local situation, so the recommendations could change depending on the impact of COVID on the school community.

“We have permission from the state to have the high school start hybrid,” Brown said. “We’re not telling people that we’re changing the elementary model yet because when the new numbers come out on Thursday, that might change. So we’re going to wait.”

He reiterated that the decisions are driven by local COVID information, such as new cases.

“There is some evidence that our local numbers are starting to come down,” he said. “On the other hand, we had a case number last week of zero, and then we had 11 again. So this could change week to week.

“Whether you believe in Dr. Fauci or you don’t, since he’s served five different presidents I think he’s pretty credible,” Brown said. “He’s talking about how this is going to last until October of 2021. So this is going to be on and off, and if you follow what he’s saying, this could be with us for a year.

“The next eight weeks are going to be really crucial. Right now, 48 states have increased cases; there’s only two states that didn’t see an increase last week. The states around us — Wisconsin, South Dakota and North Dakota — places that did not do what we did and didn’t crack down as much as we did, they’re getting hammered. That’s unfortunate.”

Brown noted that by moving to a hybrid model, the high school is allowed to hold sports. He said the Fairmont football team will play Marshall on Friday in Marshall.

As for other area schools, both Truman and Martin County West also will return to a hybrid model this week. Granada-Huntley-East Chain will continue to utilize a hybrid model for all of its students. GHEC?Superintendent Doug Storbeck said he appreciates the school’s unique situation.

“Despite the number of COVID cases in Martin County, we have been fortunate to avoid any reported cases in our building,” he said. “That has been the justification we’ve used to remain open in a hybrid model despite the drastic numbers that we got up to [in the county]. It’s nice to see the numbers going back down, and we’re continually updating our data as it’s released by the county.”

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