On Wednesday, Jan. 6, the Esko School Board voted unanimously to update its learning model from full distance learning to in-person and hybrid instruction, allowing students to return to school Tuesday, Jan. 19.

“I am fully in support of bringing our students back to in-person learning with safety protocols being followed,” Esko School District superintendent Aaron Fischer said.

Fischer brought the recommendation to update the learning model to the school board.

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The model allows for the resumption of in-person learning for students preschool age through sixth grade, with a hybrid model being enacted for grades 7-12 beginning the week of Jan. 25, according to the school board minutes and a letter sent to families. Students will be put into two groups — blue and gold — based on their last names. The groups will attend school on different days, rotating between distance and in-person learning.

Per Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz's orders, the option for distance learning will still be available to students, as well.

The school board’s decision came as a result of a recent consultation with and approval from the COVID-19 Regional Response Team and the Minnesota Department of Education, according to a letter sent to families.

Room capacities and physical distancing measures will be in place, with masks required.

The board is seeking to fill additional roles within the district, including substitutes for bus drivers and teachers.