Dear Northfield Public Schools Families,
We have made it to the last day of school! Thank you for your support, confidence, and feedback that helped us make this school year the best it practicably could be. I understand that it was difficult for many people. The loss of beloved family members, the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, and the societal trauma of the events over the last 15 months have been daunting. Yet, we continue to move forward, together.
A few pieces of data:
- We recorded 263 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases since the first day of school associated with an on-campus student or staff member.
Students were learning on campus for the vast majority of the school year:
- Pre-kindergarten–2nd grade students were in-person 81% of the school year.
- 3rd–5th grade students were in-person for 77% of the school year.
- Northfield Area Learning Center students were on campus for either the hybrid or in-person learning models for 75% of the school year.
- Northfield High School students were on campus for either the hybrid or in-person learning models for 75% of the school year.
- Northfield Middle School students were on campus for either the hybrid or in-person learning models for 75% of the school year.
The data above is school-wide data and does not include segments of the year when an individual student or elementary classroom was quarantined. Wednesdays are included as ‘on campus’ for the hybrid learning model.
We developed an entirely online program, Portage, that has been approved as a state-approved online learning provider. We are preparing to enroll students for the 2021-22 school year in this program. It can serve students both from the Northfield School District and other school districts from across the state. Thanks to our Portage families for their efforts this year to support our students and staff in this new program that started because of the pandemic.
Sunsetting the Safe Learning Plan
The public health situation in Minnesota has changed significantly for the better. The county case rate has dropped to 5.02 per 10,000 residents and is at the lowest levels since the data has been recorded. In following the guidance of the Minnesota Departments of Education and Health, we are sunsetting the district’s safe learning plan at the end of the school day on June 10, 2021. Beginning on June 11, most of the COVID-19 protocols will shift from “required” to “recommended.” The most prevalent question is about the use of face coverings. In general, face coverings will be strongly recommended for people inside of our school buildings but not required. There are a few exceptions, like riding on a school bus, or when entering a school nurse’s office. Of course, this elimination of requirements is subject to change if the public health situation deteriorates. In addition, state requirements for masking and quarantining in a child care setting (i.e. KidVentures participants and staff and Early Ventures staff) remain in effect until June 30.
While vaccination is a personal choice, it continues to be our best way to protect ourselves against a resurgence of COVID-19. The district will continue to maintain the vaccination opportunities page throughout the summer.
Over the past 15 months, we have gotten many decisions right and gotten some other decisions wrong. When we have been wrong, we’ve done the best we can to admit the error and correct it. I recognize some people have not agreed with specific decisions over the course of this journey. Please know that our decision-making process always had the best intentions to do the right thing for the health of our students, staff, and community. We made the decisions with the best information we had at the time. We endeavored to be decisive and to communicate those decisions transparently.
Dating back to March 2020, I have asked for your support, cooperation, and understanding. Thank you for your grace and forgiveness as we have navigated this unwieldy school year. I am grateful for your partnership.
Matt Hillmann, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools