Greetings, Northfield Public Schools Families:
I hope this message finds you healthy and safe. Once again, I appreciate your partnership and support during this unusual school year.
I cannot begin today’s update without acknowledging the death of Daunte Wright, a 20-year old Black man killed by Brooklyn Center police on Sunday. We also recognize the continued agony and anger present in our Black community and the deep pain caused by another death connected to law enforcement. We also must understand that these incidents can significantly impact our students, colleagues, and neighbors of color regardless of where they occur. I don’t have the words to adequately support those hurt and re-traumatized by Mr. Wright’s death. As a school district, we will keep moving forward with our work to create a just and equitable community.
Your children may want to talk about this tragedy. The Minnesota Department of Education provided several resources to help with those discussions, including:
- Helping Children and Adolescents Cope with Disasters and Other Traumatic Events (NIMH)
- What To Say To Kids When The News Is Scary (NPR)
- Parenting a Child Who Has Experienced Trauma (Child Welfare Information Gateway)
Latest COVID-19 Situation and Vaccinations
The district continues to pay close attention to the latest COVID-19 data at the county and community levels. We regularly collaborate with Rice County Public Health and the Minnesota Department of Health about how the virus impacts our community.
One of the best tools we have to finally defeat the COVID-19 health pandemic is vaccination. Students 16 and 17 years old are now eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and I have reports from many parents who have secured appointments for their children. While I recognize that vaccination is a personal choice, the district is committed to providing tools and resources to help our families find vaccination options.
The Vaccine Spotter is a new resource I am sharing today. This website aggregates information about vaccination appointments at pharmacies throughout Minnesota. It is consistently updated, so checking it frequently for new appointments is recommended. In some cases, the site will display appointments at pharmacies without listing which vaccine is available. In those cases, proceed to the individual pharmacy website.
Health Screenings and the Decision Tree
I want to emphasize the importance of the daily health screening and the use of the MDH Decision Tree for keeping students home when they are displaying symptoms. The daily health screening and the use of the Decision Tree is an effort to control the spread of the virus. While we are all tired of the disruption the pandemic has caused in our daily lives, we need to keep making sure we follow the Decision Tree when someone is not feeling well or is a close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. This strategy is essential for allowing our students to remain in school and engaged in their school activities.
We have endured so much over the last year. COVID-19 has affected our families and school community in countless ways. Our perseverance has been tested time and time again. Please know that, as a district, we will get through this together. Despite the recent increase in cases across the state, vaccination rates are also increasing. Experts see an end in sight. Let’s keep working together with patience, grace, and forgiveness. I know it’s very hard, but we will be thankful in the end.
Matt Hillmann, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools