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Alden-Conger, Glenville-Emmons to be in distance learning through mid-January

Alden-Conger and Glenville-Emmons school districts announced this week all of their students in pre-K through 12th grades will continue distance learning through mid-January because of increasing COVID-19 cases within Freeborn County.

Brian Shanks, superintendent of both districts, said there were several factors that played into the decision, including the local increase in COVID-19 cases. On Sunday alone there were 112 new cases in the county, and there is no apparent large group that has created the increase, he said. High numbers are expected to continue through the holiday season.

“As difficult as this will be, we have also heard from families that transitioning back-and-forth between models is very stressful,” Shanks said. “We felt that one longer stretch allows families to make one plan for the duration of this stint in distance learning.”

He said though distance learning is not an ideal educational setting for most students, right now it is the safest path forward. 

“There is obviously something going on in Freeborn County that is causing the number to increase by nearly 380% in four weeks,” he said. “And now with Thanksgiving a week away, followed closely by Christmas, it seems likely this number will stay high for an extended amount of time.”

The superintendent encouraged people to take personal responsibility to do what is needed to stop the spread of the virus and put politics aside. 

“Step away from what is happening in Washington, D.C., and narrow your focus on what is happening in your state, your county and your town,” he said. “You may not buy into the data and numbers bombarding us each and every day, but that is what determines the fate of our students. We want our students back in our buildings, but until we all make the decision to do what is necessary to stop the spread of this virus, the likelihood of your children coming back to school anytime in the near future becomes less and less likely.”

The districts’ incident command teams will reassess the learning model and make a proposal to the school board on Jan. 4 about how to proceed after Jan. 15. If county numbers decrease enough, students may return to in-person learning on Jan. 18.