Duluth Public Schools is planning to bring all elementary school students back to in-person learning five days a week by Feb. 8.

New guidance released by the state of Minnesota on Wednesday prioritizes in-person learning for elementary school students. Districts in Minnesota can bring their young students back to in-person learning beginning Jan. 4 as long as the district offers on-site COVID-19 saliva testing every two weeks to staff members who come in contact with students as well as other mitigation requirements.

According to Duluth Public Schools' Return to Learn update, to review the planning necessary to restart full in-person classes the district will continue its plan of distance learning at all grades until the end of the first semester, Jan. 21.

Monday, Jan. 25, grades kindergarten through second grade will begin in-person classes. Two weeks later, Monday, Feb. 8, grades three through five will begin in-person classes.

The two-week delay is due to state guidance that requires no more than three grades be reintroduced into the building in a two-week period.

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Districts are still required to use the 14-day case rate per 10,000 residents as guidance for when middle and high school students may return to in-person or hybrid learning.

To move secondary students to hybrid learning, area 14-day case rates need to be below 30. To return to in-person learning, those rates need to be less than 10.

According to Essentia Health's COVID-19 Regional Projections, the 14-day case rate as of Dec. 17 for St. Louis County is 96. The last time the 14-day case rate in St. Louis County was below 30 was Oct. 10. The last time it was below 10 was Aug. 1.