Bemidji Area Schools to return to in-person learning on Monday

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Jan. 21—BEMIDJI — After a four-day emergency closure of Bemidji Area Schools earlier in the week, school district officials announced on Friday morning that all schools will return to in-person learning and activities will resume on Monday, Jan. 24.

Following an emergency COVID closure day for Tuesday, Jan. 18, the district came to the decision

to extend the closure throughout the remainder of the week

due to guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health and Sanford Health.

"The decision to temporarily close schools was based upon our inability to adequately staff schools and facilities during a period of high COVID infection and other non-COVID related illnesses," Superintendent Tim Lutz said in the announcement. "During the emergency closure, school district leaders have met often to develop plans that will allow district schools and facilities to remain open."

According to the announcement, the district is still poised, if necessary, to shift into distance learning immediately and without loss of learning days should another emergency arise. The school closure also provided the time necessary for many employees to recover from illnesses and complete COVID-related isolation or quarantine.

"Like many other school districts and non-school employers, Bemidji Area Schools has been struggling with workforce and substitute staffing shortages," Lutz said. "Staff absences and substitute shortages have made it difficult to maintain operations. We are pleading with our community for help in meeting our staffing and substitute needs."

The district is currently in dire need of teachers, paraprofessionals, health paraprofessionals, food service workers, custodial and bus driver substitutes.

Anyone interested in a position is asked to contact the school district's substitute services website at www.teachersoncall.com for information and to apply.

"The district is grateful for the dedication of all ISD 31 employees and their commitment to the district, students and families during this challenging time," Lutz said. "We understand the importance of having our students in school and are looking forward to seeing them on Monday."