The Superior School District will transition to virtual learning Monday, Nov. 9, due to the recent increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases in Douglas County. Parents were alerted to the decision Wednesday through Facebook, phone calls and an email from District Administrator Amy Starzecki.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction did not set out clear guidelines for when a district should make the transition to virtual learning. As part of its COVID-19 response plan, the Superior School District in August adopted the Minnesota formula for making that decision. Under the formula, virtual learning for all students would occur when there are more than 50 positive COVID-19 cases per 10,000 residents within a two-week period in Douglas County. The rate is currently 52.4.

“We are also seeing an increase in positive COVID-19 cases in staff and students,” Starzecki said, and higher rates of staff and student absenteeism due sickness or being quarantined after COVID-19 exposure.

On-site learning will continue through this week, with virtual learning for all students beginning Monday. The soonest students would be able to return to school buildings would be Nov. 30. If the virtual learning period needs to be extended, officials will notify families by Nov. 25.

Students should bring home any items they might need for schooling over the next two days. Parents of secondary students in cohort A, who have completed in-person classes for the week, should contact their child’s school to arrange a time to pick up needed materials.

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Food service will continue during virtual learning via pickup and rural bus route delivery. Visit the district’s Facebook page and website for more information. The district has a technology resources and support page for families making the transition. Those needing further IT assistance can email or call 715-394-8715.

There have been 933 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Douglas County as of Wednesday, according to the state Department of Health Services.

The Douglas County Health Department said the county has reported more than 50 new cases a week for the past three weeks in a row.

The most recent spike in cases involved people in their 30s and 40s, with an increased number of children under 5 years old testing positive. The cases were identified in 13 different communities.

This story was updated at 8:56 a.m. Nov. 5 with photos from Great Lakes Elementary School. It was updated at 4:55 p.m. Nov. 4 to include additional forms of communication used by the district to reach families. It was originally posted at 4:07 p.m. Nov. 4.