Even with positive coronavirus cases on the rise in Steele County and across the state, the Owatonna Public Schools will remain in "the current learning model of in-person at elementary and hybrid for middle and (high) school will remain in effect," according to the November e-newsletter that was distributed on Friday.

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The school district is "using multiple data points to make decisions about our schools." Those contributing facts include COVID rates in each school building in the district and county numbers overall.

Owatonna's regional representative from the Minnesota Department of Health recently told school district officials, "We are urging school district to consider county case numbers as a factor in the decision-making, but not the most important factor. Local school data and positivity rates within schools should be the data we are prioritizing to make any decisions about changing learning models."

The school newsletters further indicates that Steele County Public Health Director Amy Caron agrees with this approach, "We are working closely with Owatonna Public Schools to examine the multiple data points including school-specific data and other positivity metrics that go into making any learning model changes."

Find out more on the school district's COVID safety policy page on their website.

A great venue for questions on this topic or others is the Friday, November 13 Coffee and Conversation with superintendent Jeff Elstad. The event usually lasts an hour and is very informal. You can simply listen or offer questions or comments. If you would like a link to the virtual meeting, send an email request to shoffman@isd761.org by the end of the business day on Wednesday, November 11.

For those with questions on the levy vote coming up on the ballot on Tuesday, November 3, go to the district's levy info page.