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Schools: Fairmont extends distance learning

Fairmont Area Schools are in for yet another change, based on recommendations from the Minnesota Department of Health. Superintendent Joe Brown shared that Fairmont will be extending the amount of time that students are on a distance learning model, through the middle of January, 2021.

Brown shared both the recommendation and the plan going forward.

“It is recommended by the Minnesota Department of Health that schools extend distance learning for one incubation period or 14 days past the holiday break,” he said. “The Cabinet is proposing that the Elementary and High School stay at distance learning through Thursday, January 14. Then on January 15, the teachers would use that as a COVID-19 teacher preparation day to prepare for a hybrid model on January 18.

“That’s contingent upon the numbers coming down. But for right now the numbers are high, they’re going to stay high for two weeks after Thanksgiving, two weeks after Christmas, and probably two weeks after January 1.

Brown noted that if students can be brought back to a hybrid model, it would be one week before the end of the first semester for high school students. This would allow them to prepare for final exams.

“That’s what our hope is, but again it is contingent upon the numbers. The big thing is that we’re running out of staff.

“We have 200 students that are doing the free daycare that we’re required to do for students of Tier 1 workers, but we’re so short of staff and have so many people out that it’s kind of tough. It’s hard to run a building without people.”

Brown also share a personal story, noting that he is highly concerned about people’s health in the community.

“I care deeply about everybody being healthy,” he said. “This virus is as serious as everybody said it was going to be. It’s as serious as all the doctors said it was going to be.

“I was at Kwik Trip [in Fairmont] recently, and there were five customers in the store before I walked in. Three did not have a mask on and two did. So when 60 percent of people in a store don’t have a mask on, it’s not going to get better.

“Dr. Osterholm from the University of Minnesota was on television, and he had an interesting statement. He said “Don’t share your breath with anybody.” He said “I don’t care how you do that — if you mask up, socially distance, or stay home by yourself.” So if you don’t want to wear a mask then stay home, and if you want to go out, socially distance and stay away from large groups.

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