Northfield Public Schools continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic closely. Today, I participated in another statewide phone call with the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Department of Education. I am also in contact with our local state representatives, Senator Rich Draheim and Representative Todd Lippert, and giving them updates about how the situation is impacting our community. We also listened to Governor Walz’s press conference this afternoon.
At this time, MDH and the Centers for Disease Control are not recommending school closures. We will continue the regular daily school schedule at this point. The CDC has a decision-making tree as guidance for closing schools. The detailed guidance is available online. Should there be a need to consider a school closing in Northfield, we will work with MDH and use the CDC decision-making tree to determine any school closings.
Northfield Public Schools will begin implementing new MDH guidance for schools. This guidance includes implementing social distancing to the most reasonable extent possible and limiting large group gatherings. At this time:
- All school-related events are canceled until further notice. Building rentals for non-district permit holders will be communicated directly with regarding those permits.
- Athletic teams and the high school spring play can continue to have practice, until further notice.
- All school field trips are canceled.
- The Northfield High School choir trip scheduled for Spring Break has been postponed. Choir parents will receive additional guidance in separate messaging.
- While we value our volunteers who support our students and staff, we are suspending volunteer access and unscheduled visitors until further notice.
This situation is rapidly changing. I want you to know I will begin sending updates beginning Monday, March 16, and continuing each weekday school is in session to our families and as appropriate on weekends. These messages will also be archived on the district’s website.
While school closures are not imminent, the District plans to use its e-Learning Plan in the case of any closures. While this plan is developed to address weather-related cancellations, it provides a foundation for any health-related closure as well. If a longer-term closure is implemented by the State, we will adjust the plan to meet the changing conditions for our students.
While we understand that this pandemic health situation is causing a rise in concern, MDH continues to emphasize the best things we can all do to prevent the spread of the virus are:
- Encourage frequent and thorough handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Remind your student and model frequent handwashing in your home and workplace.
- Make sure to cover coughs and sneezes.
- Use your own water bottle – do not share!
- Stay home from work and school until fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication.
Finally, there have been several rumors circulating in our community about perceived cases of COVID-19 in our community. We have been assured by MDH officials that they will communicate directly with the school district should there be an infection among our school community. As a community, we must avoid spreading rumors and innuendo about this disease. I need to activate each of you to help stop any potential rumors. We will not stigmatize people in our school community during this pandemic health event. The Minnesota Department of Health is one of the best in the nation and they will provide information as appropriate.
Thank you for helping our community navigate this rapidly changing pandemic health event. As Northfielders, we will get through this together.
Matt Hillmann, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools