Prior Lake High School is pictured.

Secondary students within the Prior Lake-Savage Area School District have the next few days of school off as the district transitions grades 6-12 from a hybrid learning model to distance learning and soon K-5 students will join them.

On Nov. 12, the district announced that K-5 students would also be transitioning from a hybrid learning model to distance learning on Nov. 30 due to increasing COVID-19 case numbers.

“This week we are again seeing a significant number of new cases of COVID-19 in Scott County and our school district, and Scott County Public Health officials are projecting a continued increase in cases over the coming weeks,” an email from Superintendent Teri Staloch states.

The transition to distance learning is as follows:

Nov. 17: K-5 hybrid learning. No school for grades 6-12 and secondary staff plans for the transition.

Nov. 18: Planned grading day for teachers. No school for the entire district.

Nov. 19-20: Grades K-5 attend school via the hybrid learning model. Distance learning resumes for 6-12 grade.

Nov. 23-24: No school for grades K-5 as elementary staff plan for transition.

Nov. 30 Elementary distance learning begins. The entire district will have transitioned to a distance learning model.

The decision to switch the learning model partially comes from guidance from the Minnesota Safe Schools Plan which recommends a learning model for students based on the county’s 14-day case rate per 10,000 people.

Scott county’s most recent case rate, as of Nov. 12, was 60.75. The state recommends distance learning for all grades for 50 or more cases.

How long the district will remain in the distance learning model is not yet known, the email states, but the MN Safe Learning Plan states that distance learning should take place for at least two weeks.

“This is not a decision that was made lightly. I know it will cause challenges for our community as we navigate work, school and child care,” Staloch stated in the email. “Please know that our top priority remains the health and safety of our students and staff. Our PLSAS Incident Command Team continues to follow the requirements of the MN Safe Learning Plan, regularly monitors several data points and works closely with Scott County Public Health to help inform the best decision making possible under these extreme circumstances.”

According to the PLSAS COVID-19 Dashboard, which was last updated Nov. 12, there has been a cumulative number of 129 confirmed cases among staff and students since Sept. 1.

In the seven days prior to Nov. 12 there were 55 confirmed student cases and 14 confirmed staff cases. The number of students and staff quarantined, according to the dashboard, totals over 700.