SARTELL -- Elementary students in the Sartell-St. Stephen school district will return to the classroom Monday, for the first time in over two months.

Governor Tim Walz announced last month, every elementary school in the state can return to in-person learning starting on January 18th.

Sartell-St. Stephen Superintendent Jeff Schwiebert says after spending some time in distance learning, they understand students will need some time to adjust to a regular school day.

We got to transport them on buses again, make sure they get on the right bus, and just make sure they get accustomed of going to school. You're schedule really changes when you stay at home all day long, so things will be different for them.

Students in PreK-5th grade will not have school Thursday and Friday as teachers prepare to welcome them back into the classroom.

Schwiebert says 6th-12th grade students will operate in a hybrid model, but it's their hope to have them return for in-person learning on January 26th.

He says he's thankful to both the parents and the community for doing their part to limit the spread and help get students back into school. 

We're fortunate here in Minnesota that our numbers have gone down since our high back in November. We're just happy kids can be back in the classroom, with their teachers and not have that drain that we think was occurring with some of our kids.

Schwiebert says as for their Equity Audit, the firm is currently going through the data from last month's survey's.  He says the next phase is to hold some focus groups, which they plan to start in February.

As for his retirement, Schwiebert says the school board on Monday hired consultants School Exec Connect to begin the search for his replacement. He says the board hopes to have a decision on a new superintendent by March.

Schwiebert will be retiring at the end of the school year.

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