Pine River-Backus school district started fall break one day early thanks to one positive COVID-19 test the night of October 13. The announcement came mere hours after Superintendent Jon Clark announced at the monthly Pine River City Council meeting had had zero cases in the school.

"This is how COVID-19 can just change things so quickly. We received notification of one positive case last night," Clark said. "In doing contact tracing with just that one case we traced significant contact with staff members and some students following protocol set by the MDH and CDC with the required quarantine of these staff members and students. It was such an amount that we would not be able to staff the school today."

School will commence with their regularly scheduled program on Monday, Oct. 19, along with recreational activities. Starting Oct. 19, however, early childhood family education staff is being shifted into temporarily vacant positions for a week while those identified by contact tracing are watching for symptoms.

Timing was surprisingly fortuitous. Not only did the school already have Oct. 15 and 16 off, but because of proximity to the weekend, the school had one less contact day to worry about in the 48 hour window of time.

"We received notification last night of a positive test," Clark said. "Then the agent told us we should go back 48 hours from then, which works fairly nice having done that the next day after a weekend. We didn't have to worry about Saturday or Sunday exposure."

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Contact has been made with all known students and staff who may have been in contact with the positive case, meaning if you didn't receive a call, you're in the clear. However, the district is asking that everyone including those in quarantine and those not in quarantine should get tested if symptoms occur, and inform the school of any positive tests. The district will then plan accordingly.

"We will be resuming school from grades k-12 as normal on Monday," Clark said. "That is, as long as we don't receive any other positive cases. Our status hasn't changed and our extracurricular activities will be continuing. We have everything in place to continue."

The district responded according to the plans set out at the beginning of the year, along with guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control. Adherence to those plans will likely lead to a quick return to this year's programming. There is currently no need for the district to look toward a full distance learning model, Clark said. Unless things change, the district will continue with it's hybrid model as before.