Considerations as Numbers Rise
Update to Families - November 6, 2020
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Spring Lake Park Schools Families:
Yesterday, the COVID-19 case rate for Anoka County was reported at 48.7 cases per 10,000 residents. A rise over one week from 39.55 and over two weeks from 33.19. In recent days, the daily case rate in the county has exceeded 200 and even reached 300 cases per day. With these numbers, we expect next week’s Thursday report to exceed 50 cases per 10,000 residents.
We received clarifying guidance from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) last week for transitioning between learning models. The guidance stated that school districts must continue to work with their regional support team, which comprises officials from Anoka County and the Minnesota Departments of Health and Education. Together, we’ll consider county-level data as well as local data to understand how community rates of COVID-19 impact our schools.
We meet with our regional support team early next week. The thresholds defined in the state’s safe learning plan are like stop signs. They require us to pause and understand what is happening in our community with the spread of the virus to determine what – if any – changes in the learning model may be necessary. At 50 cases per 10,000 residents, the plan asks us to determine if a transition of elementary students (K-6) to distance learning is advised.
We intend to operate our Modified Campus (hybrid) learning model for grades K-6 for as long as safely possible as we prioritize learning at school. With the regional support team, we will be looking at:
- County numbers: The regional support team will provide a recommendation for the district based on county case numbers. This includes understanding whether there is wide community spread, if there are outbreaks with identified sources that can be contained and if there are trends in things like the ages of those being impacted. The county-level trends alone can be enough to push a move into a more restrictive learning model, as we experienced with our transition to distance learning for grades 7-12.
- District numbers: Infection rates within our school district zip codes may or may not reflect what is happening in the county as a whole. If our regional support team determines the district is experiencing something different than the overall county, we may deviate from the county and base decisions on district-level case data and trends.
- School numbers: We will also consider the number of active cases, quarantines and close contacts in our schools along with our ability to safely and effectively staff our schools. We currently have 14 active cases (11 students from preschool to high school and 3 staff). We also have 72 students and staff in quarantine due to close contact with an infected person. While these numbers aren’t currently impacting our ability to operate, we are monitoring closely.
Health and safety are top priorities as we also balance the learning needs of students. We know any change we make has significant impacts on families, and we will continue to provide as much notice as possible if a transition is recommended for the health and safety of students, families and staff. We will keep you updated.
A decreasing infection rate is the one sure path we have to our buildings being open for learning, and it’s what we at Spring Lake Park Schools want more than anything. Please continue to follow public health guidance and encourage friends and neighbors to do the same. Thank you for your ongoing support and partnership as we all continue to learn through this pandemic.
Jeff Ronneberg, Ed.D.
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