With local school boards making the decision on masking and COVID policies for their schools, there are now a variety of policies regarding COVID. One constant is the federally mandated policy for masking on buses and reporting of positive COVID cases. Here are the most recent policies of each of the eleven local schools:
• Caledonia: Masks are strongly recommended. Mask wearers in close contact with a positive case will not need to quarantine if the positive case had worn a mask as well. The school will be following CDC and MDH guidelines for quarantine and mitigation procedures. Caledonia currently has 50 students in quarantine and four positive cases. A shift to mandatory masking or change to a different learning model could be done if there is a 2-5% threshold reached of positive COVID cases, influenza symptoms, and 2+ COVID symptoms.
The number of positive COVID cases at each building, grade or classroom, or in any specific setting in the school will be considered as well as other factors such as number of determined close contacts, number of students needing to be in quarantine, known transmission to others, and the number of staff able to teach.
• Chosen Valley: Masks are strongly recommended. The school will monitor active case rates. There will be daily temperature checks for students and staff. HVAC has been upgraded, disinfecting of rooms, buses and high use areas will continue daily. If a classroom active case rate (ACR) is over 3% (three or more active cases), the classroom may require masking. If any building is at 3-5% ACR of its population testing positive, all in the building occupants would have mandatory masking for five continuous days. If the ACR for the school goes over 5% (22 students in a given building), plans could include alternative learning such as hybrid or at home learning.
• Fillmore Central: Masks are recommended across the district. The school will follow the CDC guidelines for quarantine. No identified percentage has been chosen for any changes in masking. The school will follow any mandates given by the CDC.
• Grand Meadow: Masks and vaccinations are highly recommended. Fully vaccinated students and in cases where both students were masked will not need to quarantine. Positive cases will quarantine a minimum of 10 days. Quarantines may be shortened if after seven days the student tests negative to COVID.
• Houston: Masks are recommended for all students, staff, and visitors. Three kinds of COVID tests will be available. The district will follow the recommended decision tree from the Minnesota Department of Health. This includes disinfecting, hand washing, and contact tracing for positive cases. The superintendent has been given authority to make changes in safety measures when time constraints make it impractical to hold a board meeting.
• Kingsland: Masks/face shields are recommended but not required regardless of vaccination status for staff, students, and visitors. Hand washing, social distancing, disinfecting, contact tracing, screening and testing will continue as suggested by the CDC. All staff should be vaccinated unless a person cannot be vaccinated because of a medical condition or a sincerely held religious belief. Kingsland recommends that students over the age of 12 should also be vaccinated with the same exemptions as staff.
Kingsland will continue to trace close contacts and notify parents if their child has been identified as a close contact. Students who have been vaccinated or previously had a lab confirmed positive COVID test within the past 30 days will not need to quarantine if identified as a close contact. Vaccinated students with symptoms will be sent home. Quarantine periods for positive cases will follow the MDH guidelines.
Kingsland is not offering distance or hybrid learning this year; independent work to be completed at home will be given to students for their absence during a quarantine period.
• Lanesboro: Masks are highly recommended and strongly encouraged. It has been suggested that all be tested before they return to school this year. Staff will self-screen daily, and parents are asked to screen their children daily for symptoms. If 5% of K-6th students are absent due to COVID-like symptoms, masks will be mandated for all K-6th students and staff. Close contacts (unmasked – anyone within six feet for fifteen minutes or more, masked – anyone within three feet for 15 minutes or more) will be quarantined for five days and can return if symptom-free.
• LeRoy-Ostrander: No masks, vaccinations for COVID, tests for COVID, contact tracing or quarantine of symptom-free individuals will be required. The school district respects the rights of staff, students, and families to make their own decisions regarding their health including whether to wear a mask. The administration will be responsible to prevent and address any discrimination.
Students and staff with any cold or flu symptoms are asked to remain at home until they are symptom-free for at least 24 hours. During that time students will receive their homework assignments from their teachers and may be able to observe and participate in their classes online when they are in session.
• Mabel-Canton: Masks are recommended. If there is an increase in COVID cases, there may be a requirement for mandatory masking. Positive tests will isolate for at least 10 days. If in close contact with a positive case, students will need to quarantine for at least seven days. Vaccinated students will not need to quarantine if both students were wearing masks.
• Rushford-Peterson: Masks are recommended. There will be no difference in quarantine whether the students are vaccinated or not. Close contacts will need to quarantine five days. If they test negative, they may then return to school. If parents prefer their child not be tested, the child will need to quarantine the full 14 days. Positive cases will quarantine 10 days from the initial onset of symptoms and/or go 24 hours without a fever. The COVID team has the authority to determine necessary changes to policy. If there is a 7% positive case load in a grade cluster, they may issue mandatory masking. That would be eight positive in grades K-5, 12.5 positive in grades 6-8, and 15 positive in grades 9-12.
• Spring Grove: Masks are recommended. Assorted numbers such as positive cases in student and staff populations at the school, and vaccination rate will be considered. Staffing issues as a result of positive cases among staff could lead to changes as well. Spring Grove will be following the same quarantine procedures as used last year from the CDC and MDH. According to the superintendent, the community has shown a lot of support and understanding of the complexity of the situation.
All of the schools will be monitoring the situation and acknowledge that changes may be necessary as time goes on.