Four COVID cases, 154 in quarantine
by ALEXANDRA RETTER
Eighth grade students at Winona Middle School (WMS) moved to distance learning on April 21 after several positive cases of COVID-19 arose at that grade level. Superintendent Annette Freiheit said the district’s previously announced plans for eighth graders to resume in-person learning on May 3 are on track.
Two positive cases at the eighth grade level initially triggered WAPS’ decision to shift eighth grade students to distance learning, Freiheit said. “We just felt it was best to … make that shift, to make sure we contain that,” she said.
Once in distance learning, two additional positive cases arose, she said. Due to the positive cases, 154 students and staff are in quarantine. No more students or staff have tested positive at this time, she said.
The rise in cases first came to district leaders’ attention on April 19, Freiheit said. After meeting, they announced the move to distance learning on April 20.
When asked why the district shifted just eighth graders to distance learning, as opposed to other grades at WMS, Freiheit said, “Our contact tracing showed it was isolated to that grade level.” She added that WAPS leaders collaborated with public health officials to ensure the district was following COVID-19 safety guidance.
In the announcement of the shift, Freiheit asked families to alert the district if their student has a positive COVID-19 test, regardless of the learning model WAPS is implementing, and reminded families that the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recommends students be frequently tested for COVID-19. MDH recommends that students receive a COVID-19 test every two weeks. “It remains extremely important that our families continue to not only follow the well-known health and safety protocols (wearing a mask, maintain physical distancing, washing hands), but it is imperative that families keep their students home when they are sick,” she wrote.