A shift for high schools

A message from the Superintendent

November 5, 2020

Dear Mounds View Public Schools community,


Until recently, school districts understood that if COVID-19 case counts in the county reached 30 cases per 10,000 residents, secondary schools would move into distance learning. That understanding was clarified in a communication from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) last week that stated school districts must work with their regional support teams to also consider local data and better understand how community rates of COVID-19 are impacting local schools.


Last week, we shared that the COVID-19 case counts in Ramsey County were reported at 31 cases per 10,000 residents. We expect that number to be higher later today and continue rising. We have connected with health officials from the state and from our regional support team to look at our local data, and it is clear that transmission has started occurring in our schools. Over the past two weeks across all schools, we have had 12 staff members test positive for COVID-19 and 49 in quarantine. At the same time, 27 students tested positive and 205 were in quarantine. As you can imagine, this is beginning to impact our ability to secure substitutes and properly staff schools, especially our high schools.


Based on the meeting with the regional support team, and in light of the rising county cases and a steady increase of localized school spread, we now have updated guidance for Mounds View Public Schools. Our high schools will now transition to distance learning. We want to be clear that athletics and activities will be allowed to continue. Middle schools and elementary schools will continue in blended (hybrid) learning at this time, but we are expected to continue reviewing both county and local data and will be meeting with our regional support team again on Friday, November 13, to discuss recommendations for our school learning models. Here’s a schedule as we move forward:


  • Friday, November 6, remains a non-school day for all students as previously scheduled.

  • Monday and Tuesday, November 9 and 10, will be non-school days for high school students and planning days for high school staff.

  • On Wednesday, November 11, all high school students will begin to participate in distance learning from home.

  • It has been recommended that high school students remain in distance learning for four weeks, through Friday, December 4, at which time, we will again meet with our regional support team to determine any changes to our learning model.


We have also been in touch with our legal team. The new guidance received last week about the use of local data seemed to suggest that school districts could make decisions independent of the recommendations provided to them about learning models. The clear advice from our legal team is that we should follow and implement the recommendations of state and local health experts or we would expose the District to legal risk. The adjustments to our learning models moving forward do align with public health recommendations.


We recognize that there is no scenario in which we can select a learning model that will meet the needs of everyone. Attempting to balance the educational needs of our students with health and safety concerns has proven to be a significant challenge for all school districts, including ours. This entire situation is frustrating for everyone, and we look forward to a time when all of our students can return to school in person and every day. In the meantime, I thank you again for your understanding and partnership.


Sincerely,


Chris Lennox

Superintendent

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