Return to School / COVID-19
08/18/21 - Back to School Plan Announced
St. Cloud Area School District announced at the Wednesday Board of Education meeting its plan for returning to school in person in September. The back-to-school plan centers around achievement, well-being, and engagement. In accordance with recommendations from the CDC, MDH, MDE, and local health officials, and as a mitigation measure to reduce quarantines and help keep students in school, the plan includes universal masking of children and adults while inside district buildings and using district transportation. The school board approved the masking recommendation in a vote of 6 -1. It will take effect Monday, August 23.
St. Cloud Education Association (SCEA) President Chris Erickson said of the plan, “We support the school district in making their decisions to do this as safely as possible while ensuring our students are continuing to get a great education in our St Cloud Area Schools.”
Under the current plan, preschool – grade 12 students will return to learn in person five days a week, prioritizing relationship building with learners, establishing a positive classroom community, and supporting a culture of continuous improvement. Covid protocols will remain in place to mitigate transmission, including masking, social distancing when possible, handwashing and respiratory etiquette, as well as enhanced cleaning protocols. Outdoor learning spaces will be utilized when possible.
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Laurie Putnam shared that “the emotional and social well-being of our students and school community are also paramount as we return to school, and we will be employing strategies to ensure mindfulness and well-being.” Some of these strategies include hiring additional school counselors, chemical health counselors, and mental health supports.
In addition, the school district is committed to engaging students, families, and staff in their schools. One area of focus for the school year is increased participation in grades 6 -12 activities. Another goal is to elevate student voice and provide leadership opportunities.
On July 30, Governor Walz provided school districts with guidance on return-to-school plans. The Safe Learning Plan prioritizes health and safety for school communities and the return of as many students as possible to our schools. Each school district is required to use local COVID-19 case rates to inform their learning models: in-person, hybrid, and distance learning. Based on the changing health needs of the local community, the district is prepared to implement any of these learning models throughout the school year and may need to shift between models as health conditions change.
As COVID-19 case rates fluctuate, local health data may require a transition to either a more or less restrictive learning model. If case rates rise to a point that requires a more restrictive model (such as moving to K-12 distance learning), the transition will take place on the Monday following the data release. If case rates decrease, health data will be monitored over the span of three weeks to ensure rates either remain stable or decrease. After three weeks, a transition to a less restrictive model would follow.
Each Friday, the State releases local county health data, and that data will be updated weekly and shared here.