After only a few days in class, NRHEG secondary students will transition to distance learning effective Monday, September 14. The move is due to a spike in positive COVID cases in Waseca County. Students in grades 6-12 will move from a hybrid model to distance learning. Elementary students will continue in the hybrid learning model.

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In a letter to district families, superintendent Dale Carlson wrote, "This decision was made by the superintendent in consultation with the school board chair as directed by the school board. While the current and know projected case-rate data makes the decision to move to distance learning fairly clear, it is still a very difficult decision to make."

Secondary students began the year in hybrid "to allow for each student to have a total of two days of in-person contact with their teacher to better prepare for the move to distance learning beginning September 14. Students will have an opportunity to be issued their devices, textbooks and other materials, review safety protocols, and prepare for distance learning."

The letter, dated September 3, reports the positive case rate in Waseca "continues to increase with a 14-day case rate of 37.75...a jump from 21.80 a week ago. Projections we are receiving from local/county/state officials indicate the case rate will likely continue in this range for multiple weeks."

Carlson writes, "We believe that in-person learning is best, but we also believe that we need to follow the state guidelines and the recommendations from experts in the public health field in order to minimize the spread of the virus in our communities...The length of time the secondary school will be in distance learning is not known at this time."

The switch also means the Panthers cross country team will transition to virtual practice after a meet on Thursday, September 10. Fall sports also include clay target and a coop with Waseca High School for soccer.

Cross country coach Miles Otstot said for the AM 1390 KRFO Coaches Show, "When we go to distance learning, we have to switch to distance practices as well. We can no longer, per Minnesota State High School League rules, practice in person. So we will be having virtual cross country practices, which will be a unique thing for all of us."

He said athletes will meet virtually and be instructed on workouts they can do on their own. Afterward they'll gather again virtually, "We really want to emphasize that we are a team and we can still act like a team even if we aren't there together, that we can still support each other."