The Hermantown Middle School has notified parents that as of Tuesday, fifth- and sixth -grade students will go back to remote online classes, with an anticipated return to in-person learning on Nov. 29.

The middle school, which consists of grades five through eight, had 23 positive cases of COVID-19 among students and staff as of Friday, according to the district's dashboard. Eighteen of them were believed to have been in the facility while contagious.

In comparison, the elementary school had 13 active cases and the high school had eight.

Hermantown Middle School seventh and eighth graders will continue to attend classes in person, as COVID-19 cases among these students have not been as prevalent.

"We want all of our students healthy and back in school," Principal Jenny Wiese wrote in an email to parents. "We will strive to provide the best possible education throughout this reset. We thank you for your patience and apologize for the hardship this creates on your family."

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Students are asked to report to school in person on Monday to receive supplies and personal computers, as needed. Parents and students are asked to complete an online device checkout contract in advance.

During remote learning, Hermantown students will log in and go through their day online just as if they were in school, reporting for classes on schedule. The district does have some hotspot devices available for families who lack internet access.

Hermantown was one of few area districts to start the school year without a mask mandate for classrooms, even as vaccines were not yet available to younger students, prompting some parents to publicly express concerns.

But the district is now enforcing a mask mandate in the elementary school, with a 10-day policy also in effect for the middle school due to its high case rate, Superintendent Wayne Whitman said.

This story was updated at 2:50 p.m. Nov. 13 to include statistics on current cases, along with details of the district's mask policy. It was originally posted at 11:27 p.m. Nov. 12.