As our community continues to learn more about COVID-19 (coronavirus), I wanted to update you on how we are approaching this important issue. Know that the safety and health of our students and staff is our top priority. There is still much we do not know about this virus and the fast-moving consequences of this public health concern. This situation is changing rapidly.
We have published some frequently asked questions (FAQs) on our website and will update the information provided there whenever warranted. Please review the information we have shared to date. Right now, school closure or cancellation does not appear to be imminent. It remains, however, possible and I encourage you to think about backup plans for child care if school is temporarily closed or if parents, children, or a child care provider is sick. Northfield Public Schools will not be able to provide child care should schools be closed.
In Northfield, both Carleton and St. Olaf colleges have announced they will be making adjustments to their schedules for students after their spring breaks. Being residential settings, the colleges face a unique set of challenges that are different from our own circumstances. The majority of college students leave Northfield during Spring Break resulting in a greater potential for exposure to illness. Carleton and St. Olaf also have significant autonomy as private institutions to manage their educational program as they wish.
We continue to abide by the guidance of the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Department of Education both of whom have not advocated for public schools in Minnesota to close. As our Spring Break approaches, I know many families have plans to travel. I encourage you to review travel guidelines from the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health.
As I mentioned in my letter on February 28, the District has a pandemic flu preparation component of our crisis plan. I have established a response team that meets regularly to monitor and adjust our response. In addition, our team participates in frequent conference calls with the Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Department of Education. I want you to know we are doing everything we can to make informed decisions in the best interest of our students’ health and safety.
I will continue to keep you informed of our response and any circumstances that impact our schools. Please contact me directly with any questions about the school district’s preparation for COVID-19.
Matt Hillmann, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools