March 24, 2021 | Volume 1 • Issue 28
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.
MDH Guidance on Using Data When Determining Learning Models
The Minnesota Department of Health included the following guidance when it updated the State's Safe Learning Plan on February 17:

"Based on CDC 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."

St. Louis Park Public Schools leaders continue to monitor multiple data points on a daily basis including county-level and school-level positive case rates. The District will continue to highly prioritize the health and safety of all students, staff and families throughout the remainder of this school year when it comes to making decisions about educational delivery models.
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
CDC Recommendations Regarding Spring Break Travel
The District continues to prioritize the health and safety of staff, students and families and the ability to provide as much in-person learning as possible. The District asks that staff and families consider CDC recommendations around travel as we approach Spring Break (March 29-April 2).

The CDC is currently recommending no travel at this time, given that travel increases the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. If staff and families do decide to travel, they are reminded to continue observing all prevention measures including maintaining six feet of distance from others whenever possible, masking consistently, using proper hand hygiene, and testing and quarantining when appropriate.

The CDC also has the following recommendations after you return from traveling:

  • 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

Following this guidance gives us the best chance to keep our schools open and our staff, students and families safe.
Boys Swimming Team Places 13th; Zheng Wins Two State Titles
The St. Louis Park High School boys swimming team finished its 2020-21 season by placing 13th at the Class AA State Meet on Saturday, March 20 at the University of Minnesota’s Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center. Senior Hayden Zheng (pictured) capped his remarkable high school career by capturing two individual state championships at the State Meet the sixth and seventh state titles of his career. 

Zheng won his fourth consecutive state title in the 100-yard breaststroke with an automatic All-American time of 54.08 seconds. Zheng was even more dominant in the 200-yard individual medley event, which he won for the third consecutive time at the State Meet. His automatic All-American time of 1 minute and 47.36 seconds was more than three-and-a-half seconds faster than his closest competitor. 

Zheng, who will swim for Stanford University next year, also swam the opening leg of the team’s 200-yard medley relay. Zheng, senior Connor Coleman, senior Ben St. Clair and junior Hiro McKee combined to place eighth in the event with a time of 1 minute and 36.03 seconds.

The same quartet of swimmers also combined to place 14th in the 400-yard freestyle relay event with a time of 3 minutes and 13.51 seconds.

Other individual results included junior Andre Barajas’ 15th place finish in the 500-yard freestyle (4:52.32), St. Clair’s 17th place finish in the 100-yard freestyle (47.87 seconds), and McKee’s 25th place finish in the 100-yard butterfly (52.37 seconds). 
SLP Leaders Featured at 8th Annual MSU-Mankato - Leading Courageously for Racial Equity Conference
The Department of Educational Leadership at Minnesota State University-Mankato is dedicated to the study of the intersectionality among race, cultural responsiveness, and social justice. Their mission states that “we prepare racially and ethically conscious leaders who are resolute in serving ALL learners in a broad spectrum of educational settings.”

The following SLP Schools leaders were featured or honored by the Mankato State Department of Educational Leadership at the 8th Annual - Leading Courageously for Racial Equity Conference on March 18:

  • Superintendent Astein Osei teamed with Hopkins Superintendent Dr. Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed to present the keynote address;
  • Aquila Elementary School Principal Shelley Nielsen and Peter Hobart Elementary School Principal Kari Schwietering were acknowledged for their service as Mentors in the Courageous Leadership for School Administrators program; and
  • Community Education Youth Services Program Manager Darrell Young was selected to receive a scholarship for future education.
Global Pandemic Increases Construction Costs - District Prioritizes HS Projects for Completion
St. Louis Park Public Schools currently has multiple projects under construction and is preparing to send projects at the high school out to bid for Summer 2021 construction.

Construction during the COVID global pandemic has created a myriad of challenges and while the approved referendum construction budget has not been reduced, increased costs and regulations are causing the District to prioritize the projects for completion, dependent on the results of bidding.

The cost increases were caused by increased demand for plywood and security material, natural disasters over the past two years in the United States, COVID shutdowns and closing of companies, trade labor shortage because of baby boomer retirements, shortage of materials because of trade labor issues, new soil mitigation requirements, and basic supply and demand across the county. All of the above caused an increase of construction costs by 35% over the past two years, per Tom Bravo, Manager of Facilities. 

Additionally, the Universe Building Code (UBC) enforces a new law this year that requires any addition or renovation to a school to have additional storm shelter locations which will impact the new high school projects.

In a presentation to the School Board at their March 22 meeting, Bravo laid out the following priority order for the high school projects and said that right now the Cafeteria, Kitchen and Storm Shelter projects would be underway this Summer and that other projects are dependent on a positive bid environment or future funding.

High School Construction Projects:
  1. Cafeteria, Kitchen & Storm Shelter
  2. Media Center
  3. Classrooms
  4. Link and Learning Commons
  5. Parking Lot Modifications (to move bus loading/unloading off city streets)

“I want to make sure staff and community members understand that in 2017 when the referendum was approved, no one would have known what was going to happen in the world and the United States and its impact on construction,” Bravo said.
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 5 | Students | 3:30-4:30 p.m. | Zoom Link
April 5 | Staff | 4:30-5:30 p.m. | Zoom Link

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
See You in Two Weeks!
Due to Spring Break, there will be no SLP Communicator distributed to families on Wednesday, March 31. The next edition of the SLP Communicator will be sent on Wednesday, April 7. The school district will also not publish a COVID Dashboard next week because of Spring Break.