Both the West Central Area and the Herman-Norcross School Districts will be starting the new school year using the in-person learning model and trying to keep things as “normal” as possible for students and staff.
WCA Superintendent Dale Hogie issued a press release last week that said the district is currently working on a “Safe Return to School” plan, that will be approved at the Aug. 18 school board meeting.
“As we plan for the upcoming school year and proceed through the year, all indications are that there will be a significant amount of local control,” Hogie said. “We will consider guidance and recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), and the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE). We will take into account how COVID-19 is impacting our schools, our communities, and our regional area as we consider recommendations.”
Hogie added that the school will, of course, need to comply with requirements from these organizations and will assist in conveying information from these organizations that families may consider.
With that in mind, Hogie outlined what parents and students can expect in the WCA Safe Return to School Plan, knowing that change may occur.
•Instruction will be in-person, typically five days per week.
•Distance learning and hybrid models will not be used except for inclement weather days.
•With the exception of school provided transportation, face coverings will not be required.
•Face coverings will be optional in classrooms.
•Hand washing and hand sanitizing will continue to be emphasized.
•Covering your face when coughing or sneezing will be encouraged.
•Stay home when you are ill or have a fever.
•Remain home 48 hours after a fever has subsided without the use of medication.
•The District will distribute publications and notices from health organizations.
•The Safe Return to School Plan may change as local circumstances change.
Supt. Hogie warned parents to be cautious when they hear of constraints that will be placed on our schools this fall, especially through social media.
“Media announcements of a CDC message caused significant concern for many in our community and within Minnesota,” he said. “Examples of recently published information from the CDC is provided below. Please recognize that these points are recommendations, not requirements.”
•If you are fully vaccinated, you can participate in many of the activities that you did before the pandemic.
•To maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.
•Wearing a mask is most important if you have a weakened immune system, or if, because of your age or a underlying medical condition, you are at increased risk for severe disease, or if someone in your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated. If this applies to you or your household, you might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission in your area.
* You should continue to wear a mask where required by laws, rules, regulations, or local guidance.
The Herman-Norcross Community School District will start the 2021-2022 school year in an “ln-Person” learning model, This means that we will be in school starting September 7, 2021, full time with normal school hours followed.
Due to our small class sizes and good personal hygiene practices, it is felt that this will work best for our district’s students and staff.
Two main points from the Safe Learning Plan:
* A school district learning model will be based on the current COVID-l9 infection rate in their county.
* Regardless of the learning model, school districts are required to offer distance learning to families who may be medically vulnerable or otherwise unable or uncomfortable about returning to school.
Face covering will be optional as we start our school year, but will not be required.
We will continue to practice social distancing at the current recommendation of three feet. We will encourage students and staff who are not feeling well to stay home.
“It is the goal of the district to keep all students, faculty, and staff safe,” said H-N Superintendent Rick Bleichner. “In these uncertain and changing times that we are now faced with, our plan will stay fluid, meaning that if needed, we will be able to switch to a different learning model and continue to educate our students.”
Although neither WCA or H-N mandate teachers and/or staff be vaccinated at this time, their union, Education Minnesota, encouraged the administration of Gov. Tim Walz to work with unions of educators that work directly for the state to quickly and fairly implement the vaccine mandate announced Wednesday.
“Vaccines and masking are two of the best ways to keep students safe and learning during this pandemic,” said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota. “We support everyone coming to the table, working out the details, and quickly putting vaccine policies in place.”
The educators affected by the mandate announced by Walz on Wednesday include the faculty and staff in the Minnesota State system and a group of about 200 educators who provide instruction in the state’s correctional facilities, hospitals, group homes, the Minnesota Center for Arts Education, and the Minnesota State Academies for the Deaf and Blind.
The state government currently lacks the authority to impose a statewide vaccine policy on employees of local school districts, which employ the overwhelming majority of Education Minnesota members. Education Minnesota has distributed a sample model agreement to its local unions to facilitate quick negotiation and implementation of district-specific vaccine policies.
“Vaccination is the best tool we have for protecting our students, educators, and the rest of our school communities,” Specht said. “With very few exceptions, every educator who works directly with students this year should be vaccinated.”