SARTELL -- For the first time in almost a year all students within the Sartell-St. Stephen school district returned to in-person learning Monday.

Superintendent Jeff Schwiebert says while there was a few hiccups, it was good to see students and staff back in the classroom.

We know the data across the country is pretty clear that if you have kids in school, they have a better chance of succeeding then if they were not in school. So today we're happy to have PreK-12th grade students back in the classroom.

He says the decision to return to in-person learning was based on multiple factors, including opinions from parents, community members and local health officials.

The district has been slowly ease students back into the classroom as the positivity rate of COVID-19 continues to decline.

Schwiebert says while this is a great step in a return to normalcy for students, they know they are not out of the woods just yet.

Since we are still in a COVID world, we are still going to have to deal with quarantine and kids being sick, so we are going to keep managing that for the benefit for everyone. The thing that makes me nervous now is the new variants of the virus, but we are going to keep our eye on that.

Since Thursday, the district has had 7 students and one employee test positive for COVID-19.

Schwiebert says they will continue to meet with local and state health officials as the pandemic continues.

As for teacher vaccinations, he says all of their staff who wanted to be vaccinated have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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