Cougar Connection

An Update from your Mankato East Administration Team

March 12, 2021

Dear Students and Families,

Please see below for upcoming calendar changes and COVID 19 Quarantine Practice updates. Calendar changes will take effect next week, so please read through this information carefully.

We appreciate all of your patience and flexibility as we have navigated a challenging week at East. We continue to look forward to a return to more "normal" school functioning.

Calendar Updates

Due to a significant number of staff receiving their 2nd dose of vaccinations on Monday, March 15, we will swap our distance learning day from Wednesday, March 17 to Tuesday, March 16. We have learned that many people feel ill after receiving their 2nd dose. In anticipation, we will shift our asynchronous day to Tuesday and hold in-person learning Wednesday through Friday.
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Additionally, there is a change at the end of March due to hosting the ACT test and MSHL Basketball tournament. During that week there will be in-person learning on Monday, March 29, Distance Learning on Tuesday, March 30, Distance Learning on Wednesday, March 31, and NO SCHOOL Thursday, April 1, or Friday, April 2.

The end of 3rd quarter is Wednesday, March 31.

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COVID 19 Quarantine Updates

We apologize for the incorrect wording in our previous communication regarding whole-classroom quarantine. It was stated in the first draft of the communication that this is an MDH guideline. That is incorrect. There is no rule or guideline that requires us to close an entire classroom if there are two or more positive cases.

However, when contact tracing over this past week, we have been in close contact with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Mankato Area Public Schools COVID Task Force. The decision to quarantine entire classrooms was made in consultation with these state and local experts.

In the event that there is more than one positive COVID case in a classroom, we will continue to follow MDH guidelines while also looking at several variables including seating charts, the number of days the positive case attended school, movement in the classroom, the activity of the class, and the number of classes positive case students/staff share in common. All of these factors will weigh heavily on whether we determine that an entire classroom must be quarantined.

Over this past week, we used the information above to determine whether to quarantine several classrooms. In consultation with our district COVID decision-making team and MDH, we determined that the level and duration of exposure in several classrooms was such that the entire class was considered to have been significantly exposed to the virus. Given this, the safest option for all students and staff was to have the entire class quarantine for 14 days.

In the event of future positive cases, we will take all information into consideration and move forward with recommendations on quarantine. Multiple positive cases may not automatically cause a classroom to go into quarantine. However, each case will be weighed individually and entire class quarantines may be a possibility given the individual circumstances.

Again, our sincere apologies for misrepresenting that two positive cases in a classroom require a whole-classroom quarantine as a hard and fast rule. As seems to be the case with all aspects of this pandemic, we continue to learn as guidelines and recommendations shift and evolve.

Keeping our students and staff safe is our top priority. This means that there may be times we will have to make very difficult decisions to quarantine large groups of students. We will continue to monitor and adjust our practices as we learn more and as guidelines and recommendations change.

We understand that the potential to experience a period of quarantine from school and school activities is a significant concern for many students and families. At this time, there is just no way for us to guarantee that students will not have to experience a quarantine as a result of close contact with a positive case. We continue to do everything we can to mitigate the spread of COVID 19 in our building including using barriers, social distancing, masking, and cleaning. We continue to be hopeful that increased vaccinations and mitigation measures will help to stop the spread of the virus in our community.

Safety Reminders

Please, remember that to stay in school in-person we all need to do our part to stop the spread of the virus.

1. Do not come to school or attend any events if you are feeling sick, or if you've been tested and you're waiting for your results.

2. Do respect the social distancing guidelines we have in place at school. Sit in your assigned seat. Do not congregate in the hallways or at lunch.

3. Wear your mask the correct way (up over your nose and fully covering your mouth) at ALL times in the building. Put it on right away after you take a drink or eat.

If we work together, we can keep each other safe and we can enjoy the last few months of this school year. Please do your part.