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West Side switches to distance learning

School to close for 2 weeks after increase in staff COVID-19 cases

MARSHALL — For the first time this fall, a Marshall school will switch to distance learning as a precaution against COVID-19.

On Saturday, Marshall Public Schools notified families that there will be no in-person classes at West Side Elementary starting today. The distance learning period will last for the next two weeks.

“We’ve recently seen a slight increase in staff confirmed COVID-19 cases at West Side Elementary,” said Marshall Superintendent Jeremy Williams. “The increase in positive confirmed cases is isolated to one school, and therefore we feel it is best to take precautions and act early so that students attending other MPS buildings may continue in the hybrid model.”

West Side, along with other MPS schools, started the year using a hybrid learning model, where students spend only part of the week at school and the rest learning from home. Although Lyon County has seen some spikes in COVID-19 rates over the past couple months, Marshall was able to stay in hybrid learning mode until now.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported a total of 22 new COVID-19 cases among Lyon County residents over the weekend — 10 on Saturday, and 12 on Sunday. Lyon County has had a cumulative total of 838 positive COVID-19 cases, and five deaths.

The most recent death, a person in their late 70s, was reported Saturday.

On Friday afternoon, Williams said MPS had two confirmed positive COVID-19 cases among staff and six cases among students district-wide. An additional six staff members and 121 students were quarantining for possible exposure, suspected COVID-19 or symptoms. However, Williams said the numbers of positive and quarantined students and staff change a bit each day.

The first day of online classes for West Side students will be Tuesday. MPS said there will be no class for West Side students today to give teachers time to prepare for distance learning. A message sent to families on Saturday said there will be a drive-up line today for parents to pick up students’ learning materials and devices.

Williams said West Side will be taking the next two weeks to deep clean and sanitize the building. At the same time, he said the district is encouraging families to take precautions like wearing face masks, limiting contact with other people, and washing hands often. Working to stay healthy will help make sure West Side students can return to class starting Monday, Oct. 26.

MPS said child care will be offered to families of essential workers affected by West Side closing. Families can also continue to pick up free lunches at West Side or Marshall Middle School between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

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