Greetings, Northfield Public Schools Families:
Once again, thank you for your support and cooperation during the COVID-19 global health pandemic. Your partnership is not only valued but essential during this abnormal time.
Improvement in county case rates
We are seeing a multi-week improvement in our Rice County COVID-19 case rates. As of yesterday, the case rate has improved to 117 infections per 10,000 residents during the most recent 14-day reporting period. This indicates that our collective efforts are working. We cannot let our guard down! Please continue the common mitigation strategies of wearing a face-mask in public, washing hands frequently with hot water and soap, maintaining social distancing, and avoiding gatherings.
The District is working with our incident command team, Rice County Public Health, and the Minnesota Department of Health on a plan for returning students to campus, most likely into a hybrid model to start. Our goal will be to share the timeline with you as soon as possible. Governor Walz is expected to speak on Monday, providing information about the status of the current “pause” of a variety of activities covered in Executive Order 20-99. We also anticipate that the Minnesota Department of Health may be providing updated guidelines for how schools approach learning models in the near future. These two pieces of information will most likely provide important details to use in finalizing our timeline.
At this point, families should be prepared for distance learning to continue for at least a short period of time after winter break. Our goal is to return students to campus as quickly as practicable and as public health conditions and guidance allow. I will provide additional information in a future update.
Stage 1 Return Plan for At-Risk Learners
The District is implementing its return plan for our special education students who require the most intensive services beginning at the end of next week. Please read this update from Director of Special Services Cheryl Hall for additional information.
Sunday Night Webinar: Supporting Reading At Home
We will hold another parent support webinar on Sunday from 6:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. This week, the webinar will focus on how parents can support their child’s reading development. The session will be focused on students in Grades K-8. I will facilitate a panel discussion with Director of Instructional Services Hope Langston, Northfield Middle School teacher Rose Turnacliff, and Sibley Elementary School teacher Allison Sweeney.
COVID-19 Testing Pilot
Thanks to those families who participated in the second of three pilot COVID-19 testing events last Wednesday. There were 511 tests completed! We will hold our final testing event as part of the pilot project with MDH on Wednesday, December 16, from 1:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at Northfield Middle School. This pilot project is focused on asymptomatic students, staff, and their families. Please consider getting a COVID-19 test this Wednesday, whether or not you have participated in the first two testing events.
Raider Mascot Refresh
As shared in 2020-21 Update No. 12, the School Board had heard a request from the Northfield High School student council about refreshing the Northfield High School Raider mascot before last spring’s shift to distance learning. The Board will consider action directing the high school administration to conduct a process that would result in up to four conceptual designs to refresh the current mascot. This Board discussed this potential action at their meeting on November 23, 2020. They will vote on it as part of Monday’s school board agenda. For clarity, the name “Raiders” is not up for consideration; only refreshing the mascot.
Thank you, once again, for your support as we all work together to combat COVID-19. We will keep moving forward as a community.
Matt Hillmann, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools