BEMIDJI -- The youngest Bemidji Area Schools students will continue learning face-to-face in school following the holiday break.

According to a release from the school district sent Tuesday evening, officials have determined that elementary and preschool students will remain in the in-person model and not move into distance learning as originally planned.

Bemidji’s middle and high school students have been in a full distance learning model since Nov. 30, and the district has not yet announced any plans for that to change.

“Since we started school in September, our school staff and students have done a wonderful job of following the COVID-19 prevention guidelines,” the release said. “As a result, we have been able to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within our schools.”

Officials noted that they have been using multiple data points to evaluate learning models and whether or not to change them.

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“We have been tracking these data points regularly and sharing them at school board meetings,” the release said. “We have reviewed the data with the Northwest Minnesota COVID Regional Response Team, Beltrami County Public Health and Sanford Health on numerous occasions and have been told that what we are doing in our schools is working to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

School officials reminded the public that they were planning to switch the younger students to distance learning as a preventative measure, due to the rising caseloads and the impending holiday season, not due to any community spread within schools.

“COVID-19 case numbers have begun trending downward and transmission has not been occurring within our elementary schools,” the release said as the reason behind the decisions.

All preschool and elementary schools will remain open and students will attend classes in-person on Dec. 21, 22, and 23. The scheduled winter break begins on Dec. 24 and students will return to their schools after the holiday break on Monday, Jan. 4.