By WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – St. Cloud Area Schools will transition its younger students to distance learning starting on Nov. 30 because of the rise in COVID-19 cases.

The change will impact preschool, elementary, and alternative programs students; secondary school students are already in the distance learning model.

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Local health experts in Stearns County are projecting a continued increase in COVID-19 cases over the coming weeks. As the district considered Gov. Tim Walz’s Safe Learning Plan, they also took into account the increasing numbers of students and staff in quarantine.

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On Nov. 23 through Nov. 25, there will be no school for pre-kindergarten through fifth grade students. After the Thanksgiving break, the students will begin distance learning.

At this point, the St. Cloud Area School Districts anticipates a return to the hybrid model on Jan. 4.

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The district also says free meals will be distributed to families during this time.

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