In place of a group learning environment, desks were spaced out in this Park Elementary classroom to keep students as far apart as possible in a situation where all students are in school. During a hybrid learning model, students can be placed at every other desk to be 6 feet apart.

Hutchinson Public Schools will return to in-person learning for students in kindergarten through fifth grade starting Monday, Sept. 28.

The change comes with the most recent state data released Thursday, which shows 15 COVID-19 cases per 10,000 residents in McLeod County over a two-week period between Aug. 23 and Sept. 5. The state is using this metric to advise schools across Minnesota, though they are also monitoring preliminary numbers showing more recent trends.

The school year started with all students following a hybrid model as the two-week figure spiked as high as 36.85. Under the model, half the student body practiced distanced, digital learning while the other half attended school in person. The two groups swapped places every other day.

Come Sept. 28, students in grade 6-12 will remain in the hybrid model. It’s too early to determine when any additional changes will be made.

“If we switch to in-person for K-5, we can be there for awhile,” Superintendent Daron VanderHeiden said.

The district will plan for the change throughout next week, and use a professional development day previously planned for Sept. 25 to help teachers prepare.

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