April 7, 2021 | Volume 1 • Issue 28
A Message from Superintendent Osei
I hope you and your family were able to take a deep breath over spring break and engage in something that brought you joy and peace. This has been an emotionally and mentally taxing school year, and for me it was nice to have a moment to take a deep breath, reflect on the school year up until this point, and spend time with my family.  

Prior to spring break we shared CDC recommendations regarding spring break travel. Specifically, we requested that families follow the CDC recommendations after returning from travel.  

Those recommendations included:

  • Get tested 3-5 days after returning home from traveling
  • Stay home and self-quarantine for a full seven days after traveling, even if you receive a negative test result
  • If you choose to not get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after traveling
  • Avoid being around people who are at an increased risk of severe illness for 14 days after traveling

I would like to thank everyone who followed this guidance as we are working hard to sustain in-person learning opportunities for early learning and elementary students, and increase in-person learning opportunities in the hybrid model for secondary students.  

We continue to monitor multiple data points on a daily basis including county-level and city-level positive COVID-19 case rates. We are aware of the increase of positive cases in the county and city and are closely following the Minnesota Department of Health guidance on using data when determining a more restrictive learning model. 

Based on CDC and MDH guidance, if a school is currently in an in-person or hybrid model, the county-level data alone does not impact the need to transition to a more restrictive model. Instead, schools should rely on school-level COVID-19 transmission data and staff capacities when making the decision to transition learning models. If a school is operating in an in-person or hybrid learning model and the number of students and school staff who are absent or who are sent home with influenza- or COVID-19-like illness reaches approximately 5% of the total number of students and staff in a school within a single week, schools should reach out to their Regional Support Team and are strongly encouraged to discuss whether a transition to a more restrictive learning model is necessary.

We will continue to follow the guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health throughout the remainder of this school year when it comes to making decisions about educational delivery models.

Thank you for your continued support of St. Louis Park Public Schools and your support in helping us sustain in-person learning opportunities for our students.


COVID-19 Testing for Students and Families
There are many options to get tested, depending on your needs, and each option is available to you at NO COST. You can even schedule appointments for the whole family at the same time.

There are COVID-19 community testing sites across Minnesota, in addition to local hospitals and clinics. You can make an appointment ahead of time or walk in. You can also use the COVID-19 test at home program.

For more information about scheduling group appointments for your family at a community testing site, visit COVID-19 Community Testing.
COVID-19 Testing for Students...Made Easier
At Governor Walz’s direction, MDE is removing yet another barrier to testing: the UPS drop box. While some kids live down the street from a drop box, it’s quite a haul for others. Students will now be able to send their Vault-at-Home tests back to the lab through their schools. Please note that this program is currently only available to students and not entire families.

How this works:
  • Students or families order tests through the Vault-at-Home program (remember tests are no cost to Minnesota residents).
  • Students complete their test at home.
  • Students seal their sample tube and place it in the biohazard bag. The biohazard bag then gets sealed in the shipping bag that came with the test. The shipping label sticker is attached to the bag.
  • Students bring their sealed shipping bag with the shipping label to school on your designated onsite testing day. Please communicate clearly with all students and families as to the day of your onsite testing programs. NOTE: THE NEXT TESTING DATE IS MARCH 25.

To help students comply with MDH’s bi-weekly testing guidance and use at-home tests as a screening tool:
  • Students should test on the same schedule as staff.
  • Students will need to have a Vault-at-Home kit on hand at home to complete and bring to school on staff testing day.
  • Once students receive notice that their sample is being processed at the lab, they can order another Vault-at-Home kit for the next screening day.
  • If you bring your test to school on a non-staff testing day, the school will have directions to the nearest UPS drop box.
Important Messages from Health Services
New Quarantine Guidance for Fully-Vaccinated Individuals

If someone has completed COVID-19 vaccination (two doses in a two-dose series or one dose in a one-dose series) and is exposed to COVID-19, they do not need to quarantine if BOTH of the following are true:

  • The COVID-19 exposure was at least 14 days after their vaccination series was fully completed.
  • They do not currently have any symptoms of COVID-19.

If a fully vaccinated person develops symptoms at any time they will continue to follow exclusion guidelines set forth by MDH. They may return to work after either isolating for 10 days OR receiving a negative COVID test result OR an alternate diagnosis from a health care provider.

Fully vaccinated individuals should still continue to stay distanced, wear a mask that fits well, wash their hands often, and follow other precautions.

Information Regarding Allergy/Cold/Flu Season 

Some symptoms of general illnesses such as seasonal allergies, colds, and/or flu overlap with symptoms of COVID-19. If a parent/guardian believes their student has any illness, which displays the same symptoms as COVID-19, the student and other household members are not allowed to attend school until:

  • The symptomatic student tests negative for COVID-19.
  • An alternative diagnosis is received from the student’s health care provider. 

If the student with symptoms does not test for COVID-19, or receive an alternate diagnosis from their health care provider, they would need to isolate at home for 10 days and household members would follow the 14 day quarantine protocol.
Updated COVID-19 Dashboard
The dashboard will be updated every Wednesday and can be found on the District's COVID-19 News & Updates page at www.slpschools.org/covid19. Please note that some numbers in the quarantine column are elevated this week due to families who are choosing to quarantine after returning from an out-of-state or International Spring Break vacation.
Reminder: Masks are Required for Students on Bus and In School
COVID-19 Bus Safety Precautions:

  • Disinfecting high-touch areas regularly
  • Disinfecting entire bus after each bus route
  • Limiting the number of students on the bus
  • Social distancing students seated on the bus
  • Seating charts for each bus
  • All students are required to wear face coverings at all times while on the bus

Parents and guardians - please help your student understand the importance of these safety precautions to keep everyone safe!
LaNisha Paddock Selected as Next High School Principal
St. Louis Park Public Schools is excited to announce that LaNisha Paddock has been selected to become the next Principal for St. Louis Park High School.

"Ms. Paddock's beliefs and actions align with the strategic direction of our organization and I believe she will be a great leader for our High School," said Superintendent Astein Osei. "Ms. Paddock will help us raise the academic rigor for all students and support us in our mission to see, inspire, and empower each learner to live their brilliance in an environment that centers student voice and experience to create racially equitable learning that energizes and enhances the spirit." 

Paddock currently serves as Principal of Battle Creek Middle School for St. Paul Public Schools. Her previous experience in K-12 schools includes serving as Assistant Principal at St. Paul Harding High School, an Instructional Coach at Capitol Hill Gifted and Talented Magnet School in St. Paul, and various elementary school teaching positions in the North St. Paul, Mounds View and Osseo school districts. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree and Masters of Education degree from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.
Superintendent Osei will formally make his recommendation at the April 12 School Board meeting. Paddock will begin her duties on July 1, 2021.

Paddock and Xavier Reed, currently Associate Principal at Irondale High School for Mounds View Public Schools, were the finalists for the position. "I was very impressed by the candidates that applied for this position. We had a number of current principals from across the metro area apply and I believe that is a testament of the quality of our High School community and our school district," Superintendent Osei said.

Wendy Loberg is currently serving as Interim High School Principal for the 2020-21 school year.
Aquila Principal Shelley Nielsen to Retire in June
Aquila Elementary School Principal Shelley Nielsen has announced that she will retire at the end of June after 37 years in education, including 31 years in St. Louis Park. The following is a message she sent to Aquila families:

After months of reflection, I have decided to retire at the end of this school year. This decision has not been easy, but I know it is right for me personally.
For 31 of my 37 years in education, I have worked in St. Louis Park as a teacher, coach, and principal. As many of you know, I attended Aquila in third grade. In fact, St. Louis Park has been a part of my life for 52 years! I have loved being a principal and part of the SLP community for so much of my life.
My official date of retirement is June 30, 2021, but I wanted to share this decision with you now because the district will soon begin its search for the next Aquila Principal. I will work to support that person in any way I can.
I am grateful for the support and partnership we have had over the last several years, but most importantly during this pandemic. This is an amazing community of caring, loving people who truly put the needs of our children first. 
With gratitude,
Shelley Nielsen
District Seeking Principal for Aquila Elementary School
Due to the retirement of Aquila Elementary School Principal Shelley Nielsen at the end of the 2020-21 school year, St. Louis Park Public Schools is seeking a new elementary principal. The position is posted internally for current staff to apply and externally for new leaders seeking to join the school district.

The school district is committed to a selection process that is both rigorous and objective. The selection timeline follows:

  • April 5 - The Aquila Elementary School Principal position will be posted internally and externally.  The position will be posted on the school district website and on external job posting sites through April 29.  
  • April 12-23 - The District will gather information from Aquila stakeholder groups (staff, students, parents and community members) regarding desired characteristics for the next principal. 
  • April 12-23 - Interested stakeholders are invited to sign-up to be part of the interview team. CLICK HERE to complete the Stakeholder Sign-Up Form 
  • May 5 - First round interviews with the Stakeholder Team.
  • May 6 - First round interviews with the Stakeholder Team.
  • May 13 - Second round interviews with the Stakeholder Team.  
  • May 20 - Final interview with Superintendent.
  • May 24 - Final selection will consider evidence collected throughout the full selection process and be made by the Superintendent. The goal would be for the Superintendent to be able to bring a recommendation to the Board Meeting on May 24.

Updates will be shared throughout the process via school district communications channels.
School Board to Hold April 20 Listening Session
The St. Louis Park Public Schools School Board will host a Listening Session at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 20 in the Aquila Elementary School Media Center. Please note that capacity will be limited to what is safe in the space based on current social distancing guidance.

All stakeholders are invited to attend St. Louis Park School Board Listening Sessions to ask questions and have a conversation with school board members. Up to three school board members will attend to listen to stakeholders. It is not an official meeting and no official action will be taken. Please be aware that the school board members will end the listening session 30 minutes after the posted start time if there are no stakeholders in attendance.

Anyone who is not comfortable attending this Listening Session in person, but would still like to engage in conversation with school board members can either call the School Board hotline at 952-928-6040 or email all seven board members at schoolboard@slpschools.org.
Upcoming Listening Sessions with Superintendent Osei
As a part of the process to hear stakeholder perspectives, Superintendent Osei will be hosting Listening Sessions over the course of this school year for students, parents/guardians, and staff to better understand the impact of the implementation of the District's educational delivery models. 

April 20 | Parents/Guardians - English | 5:00-6:00 p.m. | Zoom Link
April 20 | Parents/Guardians - Spanish | 6:00-7:00 p.m. | Zoom Link
The Week of the Young Child is April 10-16
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Week of the Young Child on April 10-16, 2021. The NAEYC is the world's largest early childhood education association, with nearly 60,000 members and a network of 51 affiliates.

The purpose of the Week of the Young Child is to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.

Students and staff in the St. Louis Park Early Learning Program will celebrate the Week of the Young Child in a number of ways including a student march around the Early Learning Center on Tuesday, April 13.