09-15-2020 Message to Families

Dear STMA Parents/Guardians:

While the first week of school was very different this year, it went extremely well! I couldn’t be prouder of our students, staff, and families for working together to make the week go so smoothly. Thank you for your patience, flexibility, and grace. 

The purpose of this email is to update you on COVID-19 case rates in Wright County and explain how this may impact our students.

WRIGHT COUNTY COVID-19 CASE RATES

On September 10, 2020, Wright County released case rate data. While the number of cases in St. Michael and Albertville have recently decreased, the case rate for Wright County increased from 16.27 last week to 20.11 cases per 10,000 people this week.

Per guidelines established by Governor Walz, a county case rate of 20.11 indicates a hybrid learning model for all levels. However, based on consultation with MN Department of Health (MDH), MN Department of Education (MDE), and Wright County Public Health, we will continue with our current learning model at this time. Please continue reading as a shift in learning models may be on the horizon for students in grades PK-4.

LEARNING MODEL DETERMINATION

A comprehensive review of multiple pieces of data is used to determine the most appropriate and safest learning model for students. Districts must follow guidelines from MDE and MDH and have little control in determining their learning models. The Commissioner of Education has statutory authority to order a change in learning model if MDH determines a shift in learning model is necessary.

Weekly county case rates are one piece of data in determining the learning model for each level. While we used a single data point in August to determine our base learning model to start the school year, now that school is in session there are many more factors to consider and a single week’s data point does not dictate an immediate shift in learning models. 

Another source of data considered in shifting learning models are cases at individual schools. According to Wright County data, we have not had any positive cases confirmed among our student or staff populations since the start of the school year. If there was a unique circumstance (i.e. outbreak at a specific school/pod/classroom, not sufficient staffing, etc.), we would consider a shift in learning model, which could be done by learning pod, classroom, grade, school, etc.

Specific cases in the community and local epidemiology are also pieces of data that are helpful in determining the safest learning model for students and staff.

I want to reassure you that the health and safety of our students and staff remain our highest priority when determining learning models. Likewise, the decision will not be taken lightly as we know that any shift in a learning model will have a substantial impact on students, staff, and families. Multiple pieces of data will be considered in close consultation with MDH, MDE, and Wright County Public Health. We do not anticipate moving back and forth between learning models every couple of weeks based on the significance those changes create for students, staff, and families.

PROCESS AND TIMELINE FOR LEARNING MODEL SHIFT

With county case rates in the range of 20-29, students in grades 5-12 would remain in a hybrid learning model. Conversely, students in grades PK-4 would move from an in-person to hybrid learning model. See page three of the FAQ for information regarding a hybrid learning model.

If, after a comprehensive review of multiple pieces of data, a shift in learning models is necessary, below is the process and timeline we will follow for students in grades PK-4.

  1. We will utilize three weekly county case rate data points before transitioning from one instructional model to another, as this could constitute a trend. We will use data posted on September 10, 17, and 24, 2020.

  2. If all three data points are above the state guideline of 20, families will be notified September 25 that we will be shifting from an in-person learning model to a hybrid model for students in grades PK-4 (effective October 7, 2020).

  3. If a shift to a hybrid model is necessary, PK-4 students will continue in-person learning the week of September 28 through October 2. This will allow families time to plan for childcare and staff time to plan for a shift in teaching.

  4. There will be no school on October 5 and 6 for students in grades PK-4 to allow for staff planning.  Students in grades 5-12 will be in session per their hybrid schedule.

  5. The hybrid model would begin on October 7 for students attending Albertville Primary, Big Woods Elementary, Fieldstone Elementary, and St. Michael Elementary.

  6. Middle School East, Middle School West, and STMA High School would remain in the current learning model with no changes.

If there’s a shift to a hybrid learning model, students in grades PK-4 could return to school in an in-person learning model when three weekly data points indicate it is safe to do so in accordance with the Stay Safe MN Plan

We understand that change is difficult. We acknowledge the tremendous impact a shift in learning models has on students, staff, and families. However, we must balance the safety of our students and staff with the Governor’s mandates. We strongly encourage families to have a plan should a shift in learning models be necessary.

Thank you for your support and partnership as we navigate these challenging times. While change may be on the horizon, we stand ready to continue our strong tradition of excellence in any learning model. Take care and be safe.

 

Respectfully, 

Dr. Ann-Marie Foucault

STMA Superintendent

 

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