December 3, 2020 - News & Notes
From The Desk Of Principal Kerr
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.)


Mrs. Kerr
Not Sure When To Stay Home?
We have shared this before, and will keep sending reminders about when to stay home. We follow the decision tree developed by MDH.
  • Students and staff must stay home if they are experiencing ONE of the following more common symptoms: fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher; new cough or a cough that gets worse; difficulty/hard time breathing; new loss of taste or smell.

  • Students and staff must stay home if they are experiencing TWO or more less common symptoms: sore throat; nausea; vomiting; diarrhea; chills; muscle pain; extreme fatigue/feeling very tired; new severe/very bad headache; new nasal congestion/stuffy or runny nose.

  • Students and Staff must stay home if they have close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Please note:
  • Allergy and cold symptoms appear on the less common symptom list, and will be considered COVID-19 symptoms until a doctor gives an alternate diagnosis that is shared with the school.
  • Siblings must also stay home when a family member has symptoms.

This decision tree is part of our mitigation efforts. We are trying our best to avoid the spread of COVID-19 at St. Michael. We are trying to stay open for in person learning, 5 days/week, for the full 2020-21 school year. It is a pain in the neck wearing masks, trying to keep the kids at a safe distance from one another, hand washing and sanitizing constantly, maintaining learning cohorts, monitoring symptoms, and rethinking so many of our routines. We are all experiencing fatigue around these efforts. However, it is ALL worth it if we can keep our kids in school where they belong. Please hang in there with us, be vigilant, keep up the mitigation efforts and stay home if necessary. Do it for the kids!
MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH COVID-19
Attendance Guide for Parents and Families

What do isolation and quarantine mean?
These words are used by people in public health to describe what someone should do when they stay home because they have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it. Isolation and quarantine are public health actions that help stop the spread of germs and keep people safe.

Isolation means keeping sick people away from healthy people. The sick person stays home and tries to stay away from other people in their home as much as possible. Here are ways to do this at home:
  •  Choose one person to care for the sick child, if possible. This person should keep their distance from other people in the house as much as possible, and use a face covering, stay 6 feet apart, and wash their hands often. 
  •  The person who is sick stays at home and away from other people who live there, as much as possible. They can stay in their own bedroom or another part of the home and use their own bathroom, as much as they can. They should stay out of areas where others gather, such as the kitchen and living room.

Quarantine means keeping people who are not sick yet, but who were exposed to a sick person, away from others. Someone can spread COVID-19 before they have symptoms. Quarantine stops them from accidentally spreading the virus to other people.
  • Choose one person to care for the person in quarantine, if possible. This person should keep their distance from other people in the house as much as possible, and use a face covering, stay 6 feet apart, and wash their hands often.
  • The person who is in quarantine should stay away from others. This means not participating in activities outside the home.
Aim Higher Foundation
Reserve Fund Scholarships Available
The Aim Higher Foundation announced today that they are opening a Reserve Fund application for the 2020-21 school year. As a reminder, the Reserve Fund Scholarship is a $1,000 Aim Higher Scholarship awarded to K-8 students from families who experience sudden and unexpected financial hardship outside of the Foundation’s normal application and awarding timelines. The Reserve Fund is intended to help existing Catholic school families keep their children enrolled during a time of financial hardship. Please reach out to Darlene Casey if you would like to apply for this scholarship.
2020 St. Michael's Blues & White Gala is NOT cancelled!  

Save the Date:
February 13, 2021

With the pandemic, rules and restrictions around gatherings and how many people venues can hold, we will be having a Virtual Gala.
We need volunteers to make this event successful. The more volunteers, the lighter the workload and the bigger the success.
Plus this is a great way to connect with our parent community!

For questions please contact, Brandi McColm Director of Advancement mccolm@saintmpl.org

Wednesday Early Release Days

Wednesday Early Dismissal Care & Homework Time - January 2021

Please let us know if your child(ren) will need Wednesday Early Dismissal Care (12:15 - 2:15) in January by completing this form as soon as possible, and no later than Tuesday, December 15, 2020. We are offering this for families who do not have other options available for Wednesday afternoons. If you are able to have your child come home at 12:15, please do so, as the teachers are finding the Wednesday afternoon planning especially necessary this year.

If you are picking up your child before 2:15, we ask that you call the office so that one of our staff members can bring your child safely to their car line pickup zone.

In order to ensure proper staffing and the safety of all students we request no late enrollment.

Please complete one form per student.

Volunteers Needed!
LUNCH AND RECESS VOLUNTEERS NEEDED:
We still have many empty spots to fill; your help is needed!

  • Lunchroom and kitchen every day from 10:30am - 12:45pm. If you are available midday, please sign up using the Sign-Up Genius button below.
  • Recess from 11:10am - 1:10. Please use the Sign-up Genius button below.

All volunteers must be up to date on Virtus training. See section below for more information. Please visit virtusonline.org to log in or to create an account and complete the required steps to be a volunteer.
SCRIP GIFT CARDS CAN BE SHIPPED DIRECTLY TO YOUR HOME!
School Office: (952) 447-2124
24/7 Absentee Line: (952) 447-2230