WINONA — Winona Area Public Schools moved all grades and school buildings to a distance learning model effective immediately, Superintendent Annette K. Freiheit announced Thursday.

In a letter to families, Freiheit said Friday and Monday would be teacher planning days, and the new model would be in place starting Tuesday. An instructional planning day previously scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 18, will instead be a distance learning day.

Thursday’s announcement came on the same day that Winona County reported a record-high 71 positive COVID-19 tests. More than 200 students and staff are currently in isolation or quarantine either because they tested positive, or they were identified as a close contact of someone who did test positive.

“The public health situation deteriorated much faster than we anticipated,” Freiheit wrote. “As much as we would have liked to give more advance warning, we are concerned that we are exposing our students, staff and their families to infection if we don’t act now.”

The district will continue to offer free meals to all students ages 18 and younger in Winona. Free child care also will be provided to children of Tier I essential workers. The district will explore providing in-person instruction and services to students with disabilities and will contact families who may have the option to receive those services.

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Virtual campus tours available for prospective MSC-SE students

WINONA and RED WING— On Thursday, Minnesota State College Southeast’s entire Student Affairs team is joining forces to introduce prospective college students to the college with a virtual open house from 5-6:30 p.m.

To entice new students, the college also will waive the $20 application fee for anyone who applies for admission during the virtual open house. Participants will also have a chance to win a door prize by attending.

The open house will be held on Zoom, so advance registration is required. After signing up, a Zoom link for the open house will be sent to participants. Interested individuals can sign up at www.southeastmn.edu.

Participants will be able to visit different "Zoom Rooms" to learn more about specific topics in-depth.

"The November Open House is a general session to help people find out more information about our services and programs," said Admissions Representative Chris Cook. "It's a one-stop event with resources from several different areas to answer any questions you may have about starting college at MSC Southeast in 2021."