From Spring Lake Park Schools
Update to Families - October 8, 2020
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First four weeks of the new school year
Spring Lake Park Schools Families:
We head into fall break next week with four weeks of this new, unusual school year in the rearview mirror. This year, four weeks of continuity in learning is a milestone we will celebrate. Thank you to students, staff and families for your partnership, patience and engagement. We would not be at this point without a community coming together to support learning.
We’ve heard many positives about the return to learning this fall – in both Modified Campus (hybrid) and Extended Flexible Learning (distance) learning models. We also know every student’s and family’s experience is different. We will recognize, celebrate and build on what is working and continue to personalize the experience to best meet each student’s needs whenever and wherever they are learning.
Changing our base learning model
As we began the year, we committed to staying in our base learning model - Modified Campus Schedule (hybrid) – until at least fall break to provide continuity to the first weeks of school. We also continue with our full-time Extended Flexible Learning (distance learning) model which is available by family choice throughout the school year.
We have been monitoring county case numbers and trends. In the data from Minnesota Department of Health, our cases per 10,000 over the last weeks have been increasing, from 17.38, to 20.78 to 25.96 as reported to us today. Because this data lags by two weeks, we also have been monitoring daily case counts which have been increasing significantly in recent days.
Over the fall break, we will continue to monitor the numbers, and want families to be aware of potential scenarios:
- If numbers stabilize in the range of 20-30 cases per 10,000, we will maintain our Modified Campus (hybrid) base learning model.
- If numbers exceed 30 cases per 10,000, Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan calls for a transition to full-time distance learning for grades 7-12. We are connecting with our regional public health team to consult on the trends as we continue to monitor and determine potential next steps.
While we’d hoped to see the numbers continue to decline so we could consider opening further, that is not the reality at this moment. We are prepared for every scenario, and should a transition be needed, we will make the transition as seamless as possible. We will be in touch if a change is necessary, and for now, we will continue learning in our current models.
Notification of COVID-19 cases
During the first four weeks of school, we have had students and staff paying close attention to their health. Symptoms of allergies and illnesses like strep throat and the flu are being evaluated along with known symptoms of COVID-19, and we have been sending students and staff home in accordance with the MDH exclusion criteria.
More than 300 students and staff have spent time at home as they experienced symptoms on the screening checklist, awaited test results or remained isolated for the recommended 10 days based on their potential exposure to other cases. While this is inconvenient for those impacted, these have been important steps to keep our school buildings open for learning.
Working with Minnesota Department of Health, we have been diligently following our protocols for close contact, illness and notification. We will plan to provide a periodic, overall update as the year continues.
Since Sept. 10, we’ve seen four lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases within our school community where the infected person had been in our school building – three students, one staff member. These cases generated both general notifications to people who had been in the same spaces and notifications of close contact for those who had spent more than 15 minutes within six feet of the positive case. Another eight students reported positive cases but did not ever come to school. In our analysis and contact tracing, there is no indication that transmission of the virus has happened at school.
We will continue to communicate to families of students following our guidelines and legal and ethical privacy rules. We ask that you continue to reach out to your school’s nurse to consult with them if your child or someone in your household tests positive for COVID-19, is experiencing symptoms, or was in close contact with a person who tested positive in the last 14 days. Our collective vigilance is making a difference in this school year.
Fall break is next week, and there is no school for students. As we head into the break, all of us at Spring Lake Park Schools recognize that many of you are making significant sacrifices in your work, home and personal lives to accommodate your children's school experience. Please know how much we appreciate your partnership. Working together, we can turn four weeks of learning into many, many more despite a pandemic’s continued presence in our community.
Jeff Ronneberg, Ed.D.
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