New guidance for middle, high schools and what it means for One91
One91 Families — Yesterday, Gov. Tim Walz announced new guidance for middle and high schools with the goal of getting all middle and high school students back to school in some form. This new guidance goes into effect on Monday, Feb. 22.
Here are some of the most important points from the new guidance:
- The number of new cases of COVID-19 in our community isn’t the only thing that determines what learning model a school district might choose. This is similar to the change to elementary school guidance earlier this year. Community case rates are still one important thing to consider, but it’s not the only thing.
- The number of students or staff who experience COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms or test positive within a particular school should be another factor in deciding what learning model to use at each school. This provides more flexibility for changes on a school-by-school basis, responding to local conditions.
- Schools must still follow health protocols, including all students wearing masks and maintaining 6 feet of social distancing for both students and staff. If the number of cases in the community dropped low enough (below 10 new cases per 10,000 residents), the 6-foot social distancing requirement would no longer apply.
Gov. Walz made it clear that these changes are in response to declining case rates, increases in testing, increases in mask usage in the community, and increases in the number of people who have been vaccinated. The changes are intended to allow more flexibility, so that local school districts can choose what’s best for them.
What does this mean for One91?
Our plan to move to a hybrid learning model for middle and high school students starting March 1 is not changing.
Right now, the number of new cases in our community is still right around 30 new cases per 10,000 residents, and if we welcomed all students back into school, we wouldn’t be able to follow the 6-foot social distancing requirement.
In addition, it will take time to plan and implement the changes we’d need to make to welcome all students back to school. Classrooms and hallways will need to be reconfigured, transportation adjusted, and much more.
I believe at this time, moving to hybrid is still the best choice for our schools and students.
I am hopeful that we will be able to have even more students in our schools sometime before the end of the school year. We’ll start making those plans now, so we’re prepared if and when it becomes possible to shift toward in-person learning for all.
But it won’t happen if we let our guard down. We must be vigilant in following health and safety protocols both in our schools and in the community. Wear a mask. Watch your distance. Wash your hands. Take advantage of testing options available to you. Stay home if you experience any symptoms.
By taking these steps, we can all help ensure our students are in school as much as possible.
Dr. Theresa Battle, Superintendent
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