Greetings, Northfield Public Schools Families!
I hope this message finds you healthy and safe. I have several updates for you today. These updates include: reinforcing the beginning of the school year, a transportation update, masking requirements, learning about the Minnesota Department of Health decision tree, and child nutrition. This information is important, so please read the entire email.
Family Conferences and First Day of Instruction
As I have shared in previous communications, we will be hosting family conferences during the week of September 8-11. Individual schools are sending messages to parents about how to sign up for these family conferences. They will be available in-person (masking and social distancing required), via Zoom, or via telephone.) There will be no classes during that week.
The first day of formal instruction will be Monday, September 14, 2020.
Due to a variety of changes, including decreased ridership, Benjamin Bus has informed us that our start times can remain the same as previous years. In addition, we will be able to run a similar transportation system that we have in past years while maintaining a maximum of 50% capacity on our buses. This will create a very similar transportation structure as in previous years. Families will receive a postcard from Benjamin Bus during the week of September 8, 2020.
Face Mask Requirements
As you know, Executive Order 20-81 requires Minnesotans to wear face coverings indoors. That order includes schools. The executive order says: “A face-covering must be worn to cover the nose and mouth completely, and can include a paper or disposable face mask, a cloth face mask, a scarf, a bandanna, a neck gaiter, or a religious face covering.”
Our students will be expected to wear masks at school. The District will provide each student with at least one face mask.
The good news is that reports from all over the state, including Northfield Public Schools summer programs, indicate that students can be successful wearing masks. Here are some excellent videos about how to properly wear a mask:
- Minnesota Department of Health: How to Safely Wear Your Mask (one minute)
- Minnesota Department of Health: COVID-19 Do’s and Don’ts (two minutes)
- BayCare: For Kids: Why Do I Have To Wear a Face Mask? (two minutes)
The guidance on face shields has changed as we’ve received updates from the Minnesota Department of Health. We will provide a face shield to students who request one and have a medical, behavioral, or development reason that makes wearing a face mask unreasonable. Again, face masks are the default and a shield can be used if there is a valid medical, behavioral, or developmental certification.
When Students Should Stay Home: The MDH Decision Tree and Make a Plan MN
This information is critical. Northfield Public Schools will be following the MDH decision tree protocols about when students should stay home from school. These protocols include specific guidance about how long students will need to remain at home due to illness.
When students are out of school, we will continue to provide as much instruction as we are able, including allowing them to “Zoom” into their classroom with their school iPad as needed. Our goal is to support your students to the best of our ability.
Northfield Public Schools will hold a webinar on Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 7 pm. The webinar will provide information for families about the MDH decision tree, discussing how long students need to be out with various diagnosis and symptoms. It will also discuss masking requirements and other public health information relevant for families. We will have a panel of school staff, local physicians, and public health personnel as part of the webinar. Watch for another message from the District early next week with log-on information about the webinar.
The State of Minnesota has provided guidance to families in preparing for potential COVID-19 disruptions. You can learn more about the “Make a Plan MN” program here.
Child Nutrition Update
Northfield Public Schools Child Nutrition Services will have breakfast and lunch available on Wednesday, September 9 during Family Conference Week. These meals are free and intended only for children 18 and under. We will have ONE drive-thru, pick-up location from 11:30AM – 12:30PM on Wednesday, September 9 at Northfield High School. Meals will include lunch for Wednesday, September 9; breakfast and lunch for Thursday, September 10; and breakfast and lunch for Friday, September 11.
By completing this simple interest survey, you will greatly help Child Nutrition Services to better plan staffing, menus, and the pick-up process.
Things To Do
After you read this email, I ask for you to take action on the following items:
- Sign up for a family conference between September 8-11 once you receive an invitation from your school
- Secure a mask for you child(ren) and review the videos in this email about use of face masks
- If eligible, submit a request for use of a face shield (link above)
- Mark your calendar and plan to participate in an important Zoom meeting on Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 7 pm about when students should stay home from school
- Complete our Interest Survey for Meal Pick-up during Family Conference Week (link above)
Anti-Racism: Still More Work To Do
I cannot write this message without acknowledging the shooting that seriously injured Jacob Blake and the unrest that has followed in Kenosha and across the country. During these times, we can feel helpless. But we are not helpless. Our work to contribute to a more just society begins with us and our work in Northfield. Northfield Public Schools is committed to anti-racist work and will introduce a framework to guide these efforts this fall. We will work to address symbolism that perpetuates racism, systems behaviors that reinforce racism, and address individual development that supports every learner in our District.
Once again, thank you for your ongoing support and understanding. We are all working together and doing the best we are able to get this school year off to the best start possible. While there are challenges ahead of us, we look forward to serving your students and families. We are continually humbled that you trust our district with your children and their education.
Matt Hillmann, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools