Dear Northfield Public Schools Families,
I hope this message finds you healthy and safe. Today’s update includes information about countywide COVID-19 cases, preliminary information about a new statewide voluntary COVID-19 testing program for students, vaccination options for families of 16-to-18-year-old students, and an update about the process for refreshing the Raider mascot.
You should be receiving the weekly COVID-19 reports from the district. On April 9, the district added a weekly average of students absent with influenza-like illness symptoms and the weekly average of students quarantined due to close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 to its dashboard.
Over the last several weeks, we have seen an increase in Northfield’s share of Rice County’s laboratory-positive COVID-19 cases. In discussing the issue with Rice County Public Health, it is clear the increase is resulting from general community spread. We must continue to follow the safety protocols that we know help limit the spread of the virus to keep our students in school and our community safe.
Statewide voluntary COVID-19 testing program for students
Yesterday, the Minnesota Department of Education announced a statewide voluntary COVID-19 testing program for students.
While the Minnesota Department of Health is recommending students test at least twice per month, the program will be voluntary, no student will be required to participate, and the program will be conducted outside of class time. The district is reviewing the requirements for this program and plans to implement it as quickly as possible. I will share more specific information in a future message.
One of the best tools we have to defeat the COVID-19 health pandemic is vaccination. Students 16 and 17 years old are now eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and I know many students who have already been vaccinated. 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.
Today, the State of Minnesota announced “Roll Up Your Sleeves, Teens” week beginning Tuesday, April 27 extending through Saturday, May 1. Appointments will be prioritized for 16- and 17-year-olds and their parents at Minnesota’s Mall of America Community Vaccination Site.
Please consider signing up for the State of Minnesota Vaccine Connector and the Northfield Hospital+Clinics waiting list. You can also use the Vaccine Spotter to secure appointments at pharmacies throughout the state.
Also, the district is working on a partnership with a local pharmacy and Rice County Public Health to offer the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at a clinic in Northfield. I will share details as they become available. However, if you desire vaccination, please take the first appointment you can get.
Raider mascot refresh
As shared in updates 12, 16, and 19, the district is in the process of refreshing the Northfield High School Raider mascot. For clarity, the name “Raiders” will not change. At Monday night’s board meeting, Northfield High School Principal Joel Leer will reveal the three finalists. As you may recall, the community was invited to submit ideas in December. A committee of students, staff, alumni, and community members narrowed the possibilities this winter. Neuger, a local communications firm, has assisted with formalizing the finalists’ designs. The board will make an official selection of the refreshed mascot at a future meeting.
As always, thank you for your partnership as we navigate this most unusual school year. I continue to be proud to serve in a district that truly cares for every student. Thanks and have a good weekend.
Matt Hillmann, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools