Duluth Public Schools is moving to distance learning for all students starting Thursday, Nov. 19.

All middle and high school in-person athletics, activities and supports are being suspended starting Nov. 18 through Dec. 13. The district is hoping to restart activities and athletics as well as hybrid for elementary students Dec. 14, but nothing is final.

The district is currently in hybrid for elementary students and distance learning for secondary students. Elementary school students will begin distance learning Thursday, Nov. 19.

“Given the rapidly changing situation, we are announcing this well in advance to provide families and staff time to prepare,” Superintendent John Magas said in a news release Tuesday.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

The Minnesota Department of Health told the district that if COVID-19 case numbers do not improve, distance learning may be needed through Jan. 8, Magas said.

“While we are hopeful that we can return to our current model and eventually to even more in-person instruction, we want to be as transparent as possible with the community, allowing families to plan for the possible extension of distance learning if needed,” he said.

Both elementary student groups will meet in person next week, with Group A on Monday and Group B on Tuesday. Students and staff will have a transitional preparation day Wednesday, Nov. 18.

Elementary students are being asked to take home any personal items they may wish to use for distance learning and teachers are expected to communicate new schedules to their families following the transitional period.

During distance learning, the district will continue to provide bagged breakfast and lunch for pickup Monday through Friday when school is in session. Emergency Tier 1 child care and KEYZone services will also continue.

The current 14-day COVID-19 case rate per 10,000 residents in St. Louis County is 74.2, according to News Tribune calculations from Oct. 28 through Nov. 10. 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. 28 through Nov. 10 in other Northland counties are:

  • Aitkin: 111.4

  • Carlton: 116.5

  • Cook: 37

  • Itasca: 71.6

  • Koochiching: 41

  • Lake: 57.3

On Monday, Duluth Edison Charter Schools announced it would switch to distance learning for all students and Hermantown Community Schools announced it would switch secondary students to distance learning.

Proctor Public Schools remains distance learning at the secondary level and hybrid at the elementary level. Neither Hermantown nor Proctor have made decisions to suspend sports or activities.

This story was updated at 4:34 p.m. Nov. 10 with more information from Duluth Public Schools as well as COVID-19 14-day case rates. It was originally posted at 3:58 p.m. Nov. 10.