Greetings, Northfield Public Schools Families:
I hope this message finds your family healthy, safe, and warm. I value your continued support and cooperation as we address the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 global health pandemic. Today, I have updates for you about our local infection situation, staff vaccinations, new CDC guidelines, a district office update, the Sibley Elementary name change, and an opportunity for feedback from the City of Northfield.
Local COVID-19 Data
The Rice County COVID-19 infection rate continues to decrease. This week, the rate is 35.43 infections per 10,000 residents. There has been a decrease in the rate for eight of the last nine weeks, with the only increase coming after New Year’s celebrations.
Evidence suggests that protocols, such as masking, social distancing, frequent hand washing, and avoiding large gatherings are working. I am grateful for your efforts that have resulted in getting our students back on campus. We need to keep following the safety protocols so we can keep our students here.
Thanks to an amazing partnership with Northfield Hospital+Clinics (NH+C) and Rice County Public Health, we will have over 500 staff vaccinated as of this weekend. This Wednesday, NH+C vaccinated 308 staff members. By February 20th, we will have 591 staff members, including substitutes, vaccinated. That means that every staff member who requested a vaccine (and could get one) will have had their first dose. Staff are scheduled to have their second doses during the second and third weeks in March. These are incredible milestones and we are incredibly grateful to the NH+C for their outstanding work and support.
New CDC Guidelines
Today, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released new guidelines governing how schools address the COVID-19 pandemic. I want you to know we are aware that the new guidelines have been issued. The State of Minnesota usually takes CDC guidelines and adapts them for use in their guidance to schools. We are studying these new guidelines carefully trying to anticipate what changes our state may make as a result.
District Office Update
As part of the 2018 bond referendum, the District Offices have moved from Northfield High School to the former Longfellow building. As of February 9th, the building located at 201 South Orchard Street is now called Northfield School District Offices and Area Learning Center.
The District Offices are located on the first floor. To access the District Offices, enter at Door No. 1 on the Orchard Street side of the building. Office hours are 8 am-4:30 pm. The Area Learning Center (ALC) remains on the second floor of the building. The ALC entrance is at Door No. 6 on the 3rd Street side of the building. School Board meetings are now held in the District’s Board Room, located in the lower level of the building. While in-person attendance is currently limited to 10 or less members of the public due to COVID-19 social distancing requirements, you can enter at Door No. 2 on the 2nd Street side of the building for Board meetings.
Sibley Elementary Name Change
In October, the School Board passed Policy 809 that governs the names of school buildings. As a result, Sibley Elementary was scheduled for renaming. The public was invited in December to submit ideas for the new school name. There were 46 submissions with 36 unique names suggested. A committee of staff, parents, and students used a multi-step process to recommend three names to the School Board for consideration. Those names are Maple Hill Elementary, Spring Creek Elementary, and Maple Hills Elementary. The Board heard this report at their February 8th meeting and will act on selecting a new name on February 22nd.
City of Northfield Strategic Planning Feedback
The City of Northfield requests the public participate in a short survey with questions related to the city’s strategic plan for service delivery and quality of community life by using Polco, an online public engagement platform.
Residents’ individual information is never shared and cannot be accessed by the City. Survey results will be tabulated and shared with the City Council and community through the city website.
The survey is available in English and Spanish. Links to Polco can also be found on the city’s website, Facebook page, and Instagram feed. Paper surveys are available at the Northfield Public Library and Motor Vehicle Services at City Hall. The survey closes on March 1. Residents can participate on Polco at polco.us/northfield.
Thank you for your work to support your students during this unwieldy school year. Everyone is doing their best despite the constantly changing circumstances and your cooperation has been valued. I am proud of how our community has dealt with the difficult situations presented by the pandemic.
Matt Hillmann, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools