We made it to December, and I will consider every day in school in the month of December a Christmas miracle on Duluth Avenue! We have 18 of our 19 classrooms here in person this week. They were all here Monday, but Ms. Vochoska’s 4th grade class moved to distance learning due to a positive COVID case with many close contacts. They will be back in school on December 9. She has reported that the kids are doing great, and have been participating positively and productively in their virtual sessions. They all had lunch together virtually Wednesday, and had a blast! Knowing it was a temporary situation has helped, with only 6 school days of distance learning.
When a classroom moves to distance learning, only the children identified as close contacts should quarantine during that time. Parents will be contacted separately if their child is identified as a close contact during the contact tracing. We are finding most close contacts are the result of lunch and recess times. It is so hard for kids to socially distance during these more unstructured times.
Yesterday the CDC updated their guidance around quarantining. While they still hold that 14 days is the safest route, they announced two acceptable alternative quarantine periods:
- 7 days if one has a negative COVID test. The COVID test should be done 5 days after return from travel or close contact.
- 10 days if there is no COVID test result.
Here is a link to the transcript of yesterday’s briefing. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2020/t1202-covid-19-telebriefing.html
The MDH is now reviewing these new guidelines, and will make their recommendations in the next 24 to 48 hours. Once the MDH makes their recommendations, we will look at making updates to our policies. At this point the MDH is still advising the 14 day quarantine after travel or close contact. We will get word out as soon as we can as any updates are made to St. Michael policies.
Both the CDC and MDH are still strongly advising against travel for the holiday season. The CDC recommendation if you cannot avoid travel is to test one to three days before travel, again 3 to 5 days after travel, and to quarantine for a full seven days following travel.
The MDH has updated their decision tree UPDATED DECISION TREE
to make it easier to read, and to update some less common symptoms. In the past nasal congestion and runny nose have been considered two symptoms. Now they will be combined and considered as having one less common symptom.
We are working on updating our safe return to school booklet for our return after Christmas break. It will include our plans for dealing with distance learning. In order to keep instruction manageable, if any class goes to 50% distance learners due to quarantines or family choice, the entire class will go to distance learning. It is very difficult to do both in person and distance learning at the same time. One or two students is somewhat manageable, but as the number of students learning from home grows, it becomes much more difficult for teachers to manage.
We made the decision to focus our efforts on in-person learning this year, and to utilize distance learning only as necessary. Distance learning is not meant to be used on and off sporadically, but when needed for extended periods due to quarantining. If a child will miss only a few days due to illness, appointments or travel, distance learning will not be utilized, and the child should get caught up on school work upon return. Sick children will not be expected to participate in distance learning. They should rest and recover, then get missed assignments upon return to school.
To set up distance learning:
Contact homeroom teacher(s) via email at least 24 hours before the start of distance learning (not over the weekend). The teacher will help you arrange for picking up materials to be used at home, provide instructions for joining the class virtually through Zoom or GoogleMeet, and for accessing assignments and turning in completed work. Instructions for utilizing virtual resources will also be provided. Students learning from home are expected to join the class virtually during classroom instruction, and may be dismissed for individual work time.
If the entire class is distance learning due to a quarantine situation, the teacher will share a distance learning schedule, links for joining direct instruction, virtual resources that will be used, and expectations for positive, productive participation.
God bless your families this second week of Advent when we light the second purple candle, the candle of Peace. Jesus came into the world as a peacemaker, and he will help us have peace in our own hearts and our own households if we allow Him in. Have a wonderful weekend, and go Blues, go Gophers! (Unfortunately, no game this weekend.)