Esko Public Schools announced Friday, Nov. 6, all pre-K-12 students will switch to full distance learning.

Distance learning will be implemented from Nov. 16 through Dec. 4. At that time and throughout the distance learning period, the district administration and school board will work with the Minnesota Department of Health, Department of Education, Carlton County Public Health and the COVID-19 Regional Response Team in "assessing the appropriateness of returning to campus" after Dec. 4, according to a letter sent to families.

Since Nov. 4, the district has had 13 new COVID-19 cases and 12 total active cases to date.

Winterquist Elementary School currently has an in-person learning model and Esko High School is in hybrid.

Other logistical and programming details, such as child care for essential workers, meal service, extracurricular activities and athletic programs, are expected to be finalized later this week and after the Esko School Board meeting Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

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The letter to families said the decision was made based on "data analysis from internal and external sources" and the increased community transmission outside of the schools.

The 14-day case rate per 10,000 residents in Carlton County from Oct. 25 through Nov. 7 was 91.43, up from 44.89 from Oct. 19-31, according to News Tribune calculations.

This number is used to help guide schools when choosing a learning model.

If the 14-day case rate is consistently at or above 30, the Minnesota Department of Education recommends switching secondary students to distance learning. At or above 50, it recommends switching all students to distance learning.

All schools work closely with county health officials as well as the Minnesota Department of Health to get more localized numbers and to help determine which model is right for each district.

The 14-day case rates per 10,000 residents from Oct. 25 through Nov. 7 in other Northland counties are:

  • Aitkin, 90.02
  • Cook, 38.89

  • Itasca, 68.37
  • Koochiching, 28.94
  • Lake, 48.87
  • St. Louis, 60.38