Dear Northfield School District Families,
I hope this message finds you well. I have a number of items to share with you today, including information about vaccines for elementary school-aged children, district COVID-19 testing options, information about winter-related school closures and e-Learning days, and highlighting the district’s partnership with the Community Action Center.
Vaccination for students ages 5-11
It is being widely reported that the CDC will soon approve the use of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for children ages 5-11. While vaccination is a family’s choice, the district will continue to provide information so that families who desire vaccination are able to access an appointment.
The best source for information about the vaccine is your physician. The Minnesota Department of Health has created this resource to help families consider and prepare for vaccinating their 5-11 year old children.
Once the official approval is provided by the CDC, the district will share further information about how families can seek vaccination appointments for their 5-11-year-old children.
Winter Weather Decisions and e-Learning Days
While we don’t all like to think about it too much, winter is on its way. Unfortunately, Minnesota’s winter weather can disrupt our ability to safely transport students to school at times. When a winter weather event takes place, the district collaborates with Benjamin Bus; the National Weather Service’s Twin Cities office; city/county/township road crews (as available); and law enforcement as appropriate.
You can learn more about why the district decides to delay the start of the school day, release students early, or close school buildings for the day here. I encourage you to pay special attention to the start times for school should we ever have a late-start on a Wednesday morning. In the case of a two-hour late start on a Wednesday, PLCs are canceled and we follow the normal schedule that would be used for a two-hour late start.
Once again, we will use e-Learning days this year beginning with the second full-day cancellation of school for weather-related purposes. e-Learning days are not what distance learning has been during the pandemic. They are intended to serve as a bridge through a weather-related school disruption and avoid rescheduling school days in June. You can read the District’s e-Learning plan here.
District COVID-19 Testing
Many families have shared a concern about the lack of availability of COVID-19 testing in the community. The district will begin hosting a COVID-19 testing center to help families access a test. The district will be using the Cue rapid molecular test. This test uses a nasal swab and results are available within approximately 20 minutes. At this time, the testing is available only for symptomatic district students, staff, and children of staff who do not live within the district. District testing is not available to the general public.
Testing will be by appointment only and a link to schedule a test will be available to families on Monday, November 1. There will be limited testing availability as the center starts and access will increase over time.
In the near future, we plan to add a “test to stay” option for asymptomatic students who would normally need to quarantine due to close contact with someone at school who has tested positive for COVID-19. We are awaiting delivery of these testing supplies and will share more information in an upcoming update.
Growing Local: Northfield Emerging Leaders Program
The City of Northfield will host a Growing Local Leaders cohort beginning in February 2022. This program is designed to help emerging leaders be ready to join boards, commissions and committees in our community.
Bright Spot: Community Action Food Shelf at Northfield Community Education Center
The district’s commitment to partnerships is well known in the community. This fall, the Northfield Community Action Center opened its satellite food shelf at the Northfield Community Education Center. The site will serve families by offering a mix of fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen foods, pantry staples, and other essential items. The program will help interrupt food insecurity for residents, especially those living on the north side of Northfield.
Once again, thank you for your understanding, confidence, and support as we continue working together to help our community emerge from the pandemic together. We have all been challenged in different ways. Our mutual support for one another will be critical as we move forward together.
Matt Hillmann, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools