Ramsey County Community Updates

The ninth of bi- or tri-weekly newsletters detailing how different communities in Ramsey County are handling the Pandemic.
This week includes:

1. School District Plans, Challenges, & Opportunities Mtg Recap
2. Grants Available for School Districts
3. Policy Action Group Updates
4. Ramsey County - Stay Engaged!
"School District Plans, Challenges, and Opportunities" Meeting Recap

Last Friday, August 14, we held a virtual meeting on “School District Plans, Challenges, and Opportunities.” School district representatives in attendance were MarreJo Sager; Mounds View Schools, Jessica Kopp; St. Paul Public Schools, Mike Boguszewski; Roseville Area Schools, Scott Arcand; White Bear Lake Schools, and Val Rae Boe; Northeast Metro 916 Intermediate School District.

Meeting Recap:

This meeting used the "Fishbowl Facilitation Technique" in which school district representatives first were on camera, giving updates and discussing concerns, such as shortages. Afterwards, the rest of the RCLLG Members turned their cameras back on and joined the conversation, giving input and asking questions. We were excited to hear from all members, including Commissioners Trista MatasCastillo and Mary Jo McGuire, and Representative Kaohly Her!

School district representatives shared their frustrations and concerns in this year’s school models, whether they be distance learning or hybrid, many districts still solidifying these plans. St. Paul Public Schools, for example, are offering “Virtual School,” or year-round distance learning parents can opt into. Schools have also deemed it more important than ever to involve parent in the discussion, sending surveys to gather input. In an initial Roseville survey that went out over the summer, for example, over 50% of parents favored distance learning, but a follow-up saw that percentage fall.

Large concerns of districts revolve around increasing mental health and behavioral supports and ensuring students receive enough virtual face-to-face instruction time and have the resources they need, including internet access. Ensuring internet access was a large conversation piece. There is huge bandwidth pressure on families, especially those with multiple students and those with remote-working parents. Both education and healthcare have been dependent on access. Can internet providers, such as Comcast step-up, or can districts partner with other spaces that have high-speed internet access, potentially staffed by paraprofessionals? Some providers provide affordable hot spots, but unfortunately these aren't as effective as broadband internet, and families burn through their hot spot data plan quickly. Internet access for all needs to be pushed at the federal level.

Besides internet shortages, concerns with food distribution, transportation, teachers’ overwhelming responsibilities, and staff shortages, such as substitute teachers and bus drivers, were discussed. Commissioner MatasCastillo posed a question on the concerns of expecting children to self-pace and whether classes will designate time for live, synchronous instruction. Afterward, members discussed how partnerships could be made, discussion revolving around internet, food distribution, and more.
Check out the meeting notes and the full meeting recording here: https://mngts.egnyte.com/fl/jgPgIeGvjf The notes are broken up into 1) School district updates, 2) A shortages discussion, 3) Commissioner MatasCastillo’s question, 4) Partnership and collaboration opportunities, and 5) Other updates, including an update on the Ramsey County Dispatch Committee, provided by Carol Mueller.

Thank you to those who attended and contributed to the conversation!
Grants Available to School Districts
School District Members: Partnership for a ConnectedMN is now accepting applications for grants to bring tech devices and internet access to students across the state, especially communities most in need, including students who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color, students from low-income families, and students residing in rural Minnesota.

Applications will be due Tuesday, September 1, 2020 by 3 p.m.
Decisions will be made by Monday, September 14, 2020.
Funds will be distributed by the end of September.

Download the Request for Proposal document for all application questions and instructions.
Materials should be submitted electronically as Word or PDF documents via email. Materials must be emailed to connectedmn@spmcf.org by Tuesday, September 1, 2020 at 3 p.m.
Ramsey County COVID Policy Action
Group (PAG) Updates
Note: This will be the last update from the Policy Action Group until the group reconvenes in the next few months. They will likely reconvene around the time a next federal bill is passed. 

Debrief: The 12-member Policy Action Group (PAG), formed to manage policy issues and ensure rapid and long-term response in Ramsey County, has been operating since March. Read more about them in our first newsletter.

The group's more recent meeting was held on Monday, June 29th.
Housing & Homelessness Subcommittee: Update from the Office of Commissioner MatasCastillo
  • Hotel-shelters are currently serving approximately 269 individuals.
  • The estimated number of people without shelter in St. Paul is around 350, with numbers increasing.
  • Ramsey County and City of Saint Paul are still working to expand shelter capacity by 100 beds by 11/1 and have completed two site visits and have a couple more potential places to tour.
  • Safe Space emergency shelter was able to open a second room as of August 10th; capacity is back up to 64 (40 men and 24 women).
Food Security & Basic Needs: Update from the Office of Commissioner Ortega.
  • The committee announced the five providers of meal delivery services for residents on August 7th. We continue to contract for more services, particularly Latinx and Native American food providers. Information on contracting opportunities can be found here
  • Food resources can be found here. This site includes a link to our food access map which includes various sites where residents can obtain food and basic needs (e.g. food shelves, farmers markets) and how to apply for financial assistance.
  • The Food Security & Basic Needs subcommittee members include representatives from the City of Saint Paul, Roseville, and Maplewood; St. Paul and White Bear Lake Schools; Ramsey County Board of Commissioners, County Manager’s Office, Sheriff’s Office, and Department of Public Health; Governor’s Office; and Representative McCollum’s Office.
Ramsey County - Stay Engaged!
Registration Open: Roseville’s Park and Rec has opened registration for their Fall 2020 activities and services. Fall and winter programs include safety awareness, dance, gymnastics, art and nature camps, STEM, adult classes and leagues, skating lessons and more. For example, try “Virtual Chair Yoga” or “Landscapew in Fall: Watercolor Class!” See a catalog of offerings here or search for activities here.

Programs have been carefully reviewed and modified to meet Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. Safety sheets will be provided for each activity. *Story taken from Roseville’s August 12th Newsletter
Volunteer fifteen minutes, twice a month, for cleaner waterways and healthier communities. Storm drains flow directly to local lakes, rivers, and wetlands, including the nearby Mississippi River. Clean Water MN is a collaboration of water resource educators that includes area watershed districts, cities and other local agencies.

Minnesotans, check out which drains need to be adopted near you, easily sign up online to adopt one (or a few), then keep your drain clear of leaves, trash, and other debris. Thanks for keeping our waterways healthy! *Did you know that “natural” debris—leaves, grass clippings, fertilizer, and pet waste—becomes pollution when it hits the water? Read about it here.

Mon & Tues | Oct 12-13
Day 1 | $70
Day 2 | $110
Both Days | $150
*includes food/beverage and materials

RCLLG members receive 20% off registration! E-mail gts@mngts.org to receive the discount code before you register.
Shoreview Community Center
4580 Victoria St N
Shoreview, MN 55126

**Conference may transition to a virtual format depending on public health guidelines.

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Ramsey County League of Local Governments | www.mngts.org/rcllg