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APS shifting to distance learning

Due to rising COVID-19 numbers, the Austin Public Schools has announced it will be converting to the distance learning model through the end of the year starting after the Thanksgiving break.

In a letter issued to parents in the district late Friday afternoon by Superintendent David Krenz, the district explained its move, saying, “When we started this school year, we prioritized maximizing the time students had in our buildings with our high-quality staff. Thank you for all your efforts in allowing us to maintain this model as long as possible.”

However, the letter also said that the rising numbers of COVID-19 in both the district and county necessitated the need to shift education models.

All along, we have been carefully monitoring county and school district metrics,” the letter said. “Infection rates throughout the county have continued to increase dramatically. While we have seen a slight increase in positive cases in our buildings it has not been dramatic. What we have seen is an increase in close contacts and resulting quarantines which has caused additional stress and strain on families.”

The district will continue with its current model through Nov. 20. Staff will then have planning days on Nov. 23-24 before breaking for the Thanksgiving holiday Nov. 25-27.

Distance learning will then be implemented Nov. 30 through Dec 22, when the school will go on winter break. The district is hoping to be back to in-person learning for Pre-K through sixth grade and hybrid for grades seven through 12, along with distance learning models.

“We will monitor our return target date of Jan. 4 with Mower County Health and Minnesota Department of Health,” the letter read. “Any changes to this plan will be communicated.”