Brainerd High School one of first to transition learning models this year

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For two weeks, high school was as normal as it could be in a hybrid learning model for the 2,000 students who attend Brainerd High School.

"What happened yesterday though, the numbers started coming in from the morning on and it was to a point where we didn’t want to miss anyone," said Superintendent of Brainerd School District, Laine Larson.

About a dozen students tested positive for COVID-19. The district said those students had contact with peers, and now, more than two dozen others are getting tested.

"When we contacted the Minnesota Department of Health, they recommended that we do this restart, just to make sure that we don’t spread it at all, that we get it under control," Larson added.

The district said there’s no evidence the positive cases originated at school but the uptick is forcing the school into distance learning on Thursday.

Students were off Wednesday so teachers and staff could prepare.

"Our teachers are busy today, they’ve been busy all morning working on transitioning to be away from the students for two weeks and also collaborating with each other in order to make sure we’re ready to go tomorrow morning," said Brainerd High School Principal Andrea Rusk.

The transition means all high school activities are put on hold, like football and volleyball, two fall sports that were just reinstated by the Minnesota State High School League on Monday.

"To go from that high with our kids and coaching staff to that low, I’m really having to walk out there and break the news to the kids, it was really tough," said Brainerd football coach and teacher Jason Freed.

The first football game is scheduled for Oct. 9 but with practice not likely to resume until the day before, that game is in limbo.

Freed however, is staying positive, and said after talking with his student-athletes and coaches Tuesday, they had a very uplifting practice.

"Look at your life, look at the things you can control and ultimately be leaders, and let’s come out of this in the end on a positive side, which I really think we can," he said.

The district expects the restart to last just two weeks and is hopeful students will be back in the high school, with activities resuming, on Oct. 8.