St. Michael-Albertville School District and their counterparts throughout Minnesota will press on with the school year Monday, March 16, despite the increasing number of state residents testing positive for the COVID-19 virus.
The Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Department of Education announced Friday, March 13 that they recommend schools to remain open, despite mass cancellations of concerts, sporting events and other large-group gatherings around the United States.
That’s not to say the state isn’t hearing the call. MDE and MDH are working with the Minnesota
State High School League on curbing the crowds at all remaining winter sports tournaments, and are starting to look at the spring sports season.
The two state agencies are also recommending districts put plans in place for those who are “medically fragile,” recommending distance learning for these students.
Dr. Ann-Marie Foucault, Superintendent of STMA Schools, sent communication to parents around the school district on Thursday, March 12, prior to the MDH/MDE call Friday morning:
Recently, I communicated with you about the COVID-19 (AKA Coronavirus) situation. At that time, there were no confirmed cases. As of today, there are a number of COVID-19 cases in Minnesota and the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared COVID-19 a pandemic. STMA Schools is prepared to reduce the spread of illness and protect the safety of students, staff, and visitors in our buildings. At this time, STMA Schools will be in session as planned March 16.
This is a rapidly evolving situation that will undoubtedly have implications for STMA as well as many Minnesota communities in the coming days and weeks. The district has a pandemic preparedness plan in place and a task force of key district staff are following it at this time. I want you to know I am working closely with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), Wright County Public Health, and more as I prepare for the impact the virus will have on our schools. As a result, I want to reassure you that I, along with key district staff, are highly involved in planning for the impact of COVID-19.
This work will require all STMA stakeholders to pull together to ensure the best results for our community. STMA Schools will follow the expert guidance from the CDC, MDH, MDE, WHO, and Wright County Public Health. These professional organizations continue to stress common-sense illness prevention strategies such as staying home when sick, covering your cough and sneezes, and frequent hand washing. Additional information is shared on our COVID-19 resource webpage.
I am taking action. As noted above I have activated a task force to coordinate operations and prevention systems. This team has reviewed district practices with the goal of limiting introduction and spread of COVID-19 into our schools. The prevention system includes:
• Hiring additional staff to disinfectant common areas such as bathrooms, drinking fountains, railings, and other hard surfaces.
• Working with our transportation partners, Don’s Bus, to ensure buses are disinfected daily.
• Preparing food service operations to limit student touch of utensils and food products with bare hands.
• Cancelling nonessential student and staff trips locally, out-of-state, and internationally.
• Working with the Lake Conference and MN State High School League (MSHSL) to monitor activities.
• Regardless of our extra precautions our attendance policy is relaxed. If you feel more comfortable keeping your children home, you are free to do so. Currently, the guidance is to keep students in school but I respect your wishes. We do not have online learning capabilities but are working on alternate options should we need to close school. If you decide to keep your children home, please report the absences to the school and have your children keep up with their homework as much as possible.
• In the event that COVID-19 becomes an issue that impacts the school day, I will use the communications systems in place to widely share information with staff and families.
I want to reassure you that the safety of students and staff is my highest priority. I will continue to monitor the situation and keep parents/guardians, staff, and visitors informed with updated information. To learn more about COVID-19 and its status in Minnesota visit the Minnesota Department of Health website or call the MDH hotline at 651-201-3920.
Thank you for your attention to this message and for partnering with us to maintain the health and safety of our students and staff.
Dr. Ann-Marie Foucault