On the same day officials announced football will be returning to Minnesota high schools this fall, one district is closing its doors to students for nearly two months.
In a letter posted on the Wrenshall School District website, Superintendent Kim Belcastro told parents the district would be closed Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 22-23, due to the high number of students and staff who are out of school with symptoms of COVID-19.
Belcastro also announced Wrenshall will move to a full distance learning model Thursday, Sept. 24, and the district is “hoping” to have students back in the building by Nov. 9, the first day of the second quarter.
The Wrens Club child care program will remain open for families who need child care during school hours, the letter said. It asked parents to contact Community Education Director Julie Jacobson at email@example.com for more information.
Wrenshall began the school year in a hybrid learning model as a result of the pandemic and unfinished construction related to health and safety upgrades in the building.
"Wrenshall is primarily a one-section school district," Belcastro said in an email. "Therefore, it can become very difficult very quickly if we are not able to have our staff at school. We also have a very limited number of substitute teachers that are willing to come in during COVID-19."
Belcastro said 5% of the district's teaching staff is out with COVID-19 symptoms, in addition to some support staff.
Carlton Superintendent John Engstrom said he is unsure what the decision means for the cooperative football and cross-country teams the schools have established. Carlton moved to a hybrid model for middle and high school students earlier this month because the two week average of cases in Carlton County rose, but currently his district’s plans are unchanged.
“At some point, we may have to do what Wrenshall had to do,” Engstrom said in an email. “As of today, we have had no confirmed cases, and we are proceeding with the plan. I count everyday that we have with students in the building and no COVID cases as a blessing.”
Belcastro indicated Wrenshall students would continue participating in sports and other activities during distance learning.
This story was updated at 5:42 p.m. with comments from Wrenshall Superintendent Kim Belcastro. It was originally posted at 5:32 p.m.