Dear Northfield Public Schools Families,
I hope this message finds your families well and healthy. Thank you for your patience, understanding, support, and forgiveness as we have adjusted to changes in our daily lives resulting from the COVID-19 global pandemic health crisis.
At a press conference this afternoon, Governor Tim Walz announced that school districts will implement a period of distance learning until at least April 30, 2020, with students returning to school on May 5, 2020. This order is subject to change and could be extended.
At the same press conference, Governor Walz announced a period of “shelter-in-place” for Minnesotans from 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 27, 2020, through April 10, 2020. The shelter-in-place order is intended to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus and prevent overwhelming our hospital system. There are only 235 intensive care unit beds available in the entire state. Our efforts in the coming weeks will buy time to help support our hospital system’s ability to care for those who need the most care. It will reduce the number of deaths associated with COVID-19. You can watch Governor Walz’s press conference here.
On Tuesday, March 31 (the day students were scheduled to return to school after Spring Break), we will begin our distance learning days for all students. As mentioned in yesterday’s message to families, please watch your email late tomorrow afternoon for the District’s first iteration of our distance learning plans. I know you have many questions and we are working quickly to provide accurate, timely information. Again, I appreciate all of your grace as we work to implement a different way of educating our children for at least the next month.
Our ongoing services to support emergency workers and those who benefit from food assistance will continue. Our schools will provide child care for health care and emergency workers whose children are in Kindergarten through age 12 from 6:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Monday-Friday at Bridgewater Elementary. If you have not already done so, complete this form to register. We will also provide free meals to children in need from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday at multiple locations. We are also preparing to implement bus routes to strategic areas within the school district to deliver meals. These routes will be announced in a future communication.
We are committed to having 100% of our students connected with their teachers during this time. We appreciate your patience as we reach out to establish every child’s need for a device and internet connection. Our data shows that 97% of our students currently have access to a home Internet connection. Charter Spectrum is offering free service for 60 days during this global pandemic health crisis. Families must access this option individually. Some cellular providers like T-Mobile are providing unlimited data to customers, so you may be able to turn your phone “hotspot” on to allow this access. Finally, the District will have access to 50 T-Mobile standalone “hotspots” for those who cannot access the free Charter Spectrum service or use their own cellular phone as a “hotspot.” If your child needs a device or if your family needs home internet service for schooling, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at 507-645-1260. Include the names of your children, grade and what is needed (device and/or internet).
This is an unprecedented time in our nation’s history. The situation continues to change rapidly. The school district will continue communicating regularly with families. Thank you for your ongoing cooperation and flexibility. I am grateful for each and every one of you.
Matt Hillmann, Ed.D.