Superintendent Update 8/24/2020
For many of you that have followed this whole process, even to the point of looking at the data on the Minnesota Department of Health’s website you will now see that Stearns County is now below 10, 9.88 to be precise on this past Thursday’s (8/20) data. We now have reached the threshold of where we could bring all of the secondary students back along with all of the elementary students. Currently we are still planning to open up with All Students In Person Model at the Elementary (PreK-5) and the Hybrid Model at the Secondary (Grades 6-12) on August 31. The School Board will be asked to pass a resolution to formalize the process at tonight's School Board meeting. However, it is important to note that we can change the model at any time following the passage of the resolution.
As a district we will continue to monitor the numbers at both the county level and some of the local data that we have been receiving in the last couple of weeks. I was told at a Stearns County Public Health meeting last week the numbers in our district COVID-19 diagnoses may see a significant rise in the number of cases in our area.
Our Incident Command team will meet again this week to take a look at the numbers to see if we need to make any changes to our educational models. We do not want to be jumping back and forth between models every week. In the data trends we receive, the most frequent change may occur after two weeks in a specific model before we would have to change again.
I also want to share with you a message from our Superintendent Association. This is a shared response that many superintendents have used to help people understand why we are making the decisions we do to protect our students and staff but also provide an outstanding educational experience to our students. Here is that message:
Some of our community members have expressed concern about opening school for the 2020-2021 school year. They are concerned that holding face-to-face in-person instruction will needlessly expose our students and teachers to COVID-19. They have seen media reports of other states’ attempts to return to school, in some cases resulting in higher rates of infection and some teachers resigning rather than chance exposure.
Here is what I can tell you. Until we have a safe and effective vaccine, we don’t know what the rate of infection will be in our communities. But we can affect that rate by practicing proven prevention such as mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing. Then we watch the rates of infection for our local communities, and those rates tell us how to deliver instruction while keeping our students and staff safe.
Here in Minnesota, we make these decisions based on science. The guidance is based on the appropriate response to the incidence of virus in a community, and proper safety equipment and behavior is key. This is not about politics any more than wearing your seatbelt, not smoking, or not taking a stroll in a lightning storm is about politics. We are about the safety of our students and staff, and we will provide guidance to ensure that safety based on our very best scientific evidence.
Our teachers are our front line workers. Through their professional practice, they are the most impactful resource leading to student success. How can we not see that as essential? But again, science must drive the extent to which our teachers can safely teach face-to-face, or must practice via distance learning. We pledge to you that a safe environment is of paramount importance; we will accept nothing less for our students and staff; and we respectfully ask for the help of our staff and the wider community in realizing this critical mission.
If you have any questions or concerns do not hesitate to contact me or any of the building principals.
Greg Winter, Superintendent: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chad Doetkott, High School Principal email@example.com
Robert Anderson, Middle School Principal firstname.lastname@example.org
Terryl Pearson, Elementary School Principal email@example.com