Grantsburg, Siren and Webster schools will all be closed until Nov. 20 after a significant increase of COVID-19 in the student, staff and residential population.

“As a result, we will be moving from our current face-to-face instructional model to remote learning for all students starting Monday, November 9,” Webster Superintendent Jeff Fimreite said in a social media post. “Tomorrow, Friday, Nov. 6, School will be closed as we prepare for virtual learning, and students will not have any virtual classes or work for Friday, Nov. 6. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and continue to appreciate your flexibility.”

This transition to virtual learning is expected not to have impact on the Thanksgiving break that begins Nov. 23. The Webster School District is hopeful students will be back in the classroom by Nov. 30.

Siren School District made a similar announcement on Monday.

In a letter sent out to families, signed by Superintendent Kevin Shetler and the three principals, explained that in-person is best for learning, but simply not possible right now.

“However, it is currently not possible to continue this method as we are seeing increased staffing shortages and an increase in positive cases within our student population,” the letter said. It continued to explain there have been more cases of students with close contacts with identified cases.

Webster has postponed all middle school sports. However, high school sports will continue with the Webster Tigers taking on the Boyceville Bulldogs in Boyceville on Friday night.

In Siren, winter sports will not start until after the Thanksgiving break.

Starting on Monday, Webster students were expected to use take-home devices and students are expected to attend classes as attendance will still be taken.

“We fully understand that face-to-face instruction is preferable for most, but in this instance, we must go to a model that will allow us to regroup from the impact of the most recent COVID-19 positive cases,” Fimreite said.

Grantsburg made a similar post on social media. Grantsburg Schools closed on Tuesday to prepare Wednesday for distance learning. The high school and the middle school will remain closed through Tuesday, November 24 and move to remote learning while Nelson Primary and the elementary school will remain open for in-person instruction. There have been no positive cases of COVID-19 reported in the Nelson or elementary buildings, which is why they will remain learning in-person, but Superintendent Joshua Watt states they will continue to closely monitor both schools.

The high school and the middle school, however, has seen an increased number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, and Watt stated that for the safety of the students and the staff, they have made the final decision to move to remote learning until after Thanksgiving break. “The school district and staff have done their best to minimize the risk to students and staff by quarantining and isolating those impacted by COVID-19 to date to allow us to keep our schools open. In-person instruction is our top priority; however, in-person instruction is not always possible due to an increase in positive cases, the number of students and staff who have been identified as close contacts, staffing shortages, and the need for cleaning and disinfecting.”

The Grantsburg High School and Middle school are tentatively set to re-open to in-person learning on Monday, November 30.

In the last month, COVID-19 cases in Burnett County have risen from 255 to 433 lab confirmed positive cases.