MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO)– As COVID cases rise in Minnesota, one school district is extending its Thanksgiving break as a way to control the spread.

Shakopee Public Schools will not have classes next Monday or Tuesday, giving students nine days away from school.

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While teachers will still work early next week, school leaders hope the time away for students helps bring down cases.

“It’s good to know about different businesses that are pretty local to us. And about different opportunities we have with them,” said senior Emma Hitchen.

A career fair at Shakopee high school normally brings in about 80 exhibitors. This year, only 40 were invited. It’s one example of how the school is trying to crack down on COVID.

“It’s kind of scary too because of last year I don’t want us to go back into distance learning,” said senior Vahhnett Cannon-Weah.

“Obviously, I know a lot of my friends- that wasn’t fun,” said senior Lexie Gray.

The first week of November was tough on the entire district. They saw the most COVID cases they’ve seen since the beginning of the pandemic. And those numbers have gone up every week since.

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“We currently have three elementary classrooms that we had to move into distance learning because they had a large number of COVID cases,” said Mike Redmond, superintendent for Shakopee Public Schools.

Redmond said other classrooms are getting close to concerning levels. Beginning this weekend, students will get nine days off- though staff will still work Monday and Tuesday next week. Parent conferences will now be held virtually on Monday night.

Redmond said they are doing everything they can to avoid distance learning as they believe the best way for students to learn is in the classroom.

“The ultimate fallback position is, we know distance learning, we’ll do it. But we would definitely prefer not to,” said Redmond.

The rising case numbers have put stress on schools that are already short-staffed. Redmond said they are developing plans to avoid full-time distance learning, but he’s hoping the extra time off for students gets the district back on track.

“I would say the best time to take an action to slow the spread of COVID is before it gets out of control. We don’t know exactly what that tipping point is, but we know we’ve gotten a lot closer in the last three weeks,” said Redmond.

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John Lauritsen