Dear Northfield School District Families,
Thank you for your continued support of our school community. We value the relationship we have with our parents and guardians, especially during the difficult times associated with the pandemic. I know that COVID-19 continues to challenge all of us. We acknowledge this reality but look forward, knowing brighter days are ahead. Overall, our safety protocols appear to be working and are limiting the overall impact of the coronavirus on our school operations.
COVID-19 Testing Update
As typical for this time of year, district nurses see students with runny noses, congestion, and coughs. We know in many cases, these symptoms are associated with a non-COVID-19 illness. The district continues to follow the Minnesota Department of Health Decision Tree to limit any potential COVID-19 transmission at school. The decision tree requires students and staff with one “more common” or two “less common” symptoms to have a negative COVID-19 test or an alternative diagnosis prior to returning to school. As previously shared in Family Update No. 3, the district only accepts PCR or molecular tests for this purpose. We also understand that families have struggled to find a location to get these tests for their children. As a result, we will be hosting a drive-through COVID-19 testing center at our district offices. You can, of course, continue taking a PCR or molecular test elsewhere. This testing is optional and offered as a service to families.
The district will be using the Cue rapid molecular test. This nasal swab test’s results are available in around 20 minutes. You can learn more about the Cue test here. We have received these tests for free from the Minnesota Department of Health and use a state grant to pay for staffing to administer the tests. We are still finalizing the details of our testing program and we should be able to begin offering appointments soon.
Vaccination is still the best tool we have against COVID-19. Our most recent data analysis shows that 65% of eligible students (Ages 12 and older) have at least one vaccine dose and 63% have completed the vaccination series.
If your student is old enough but hasn’t yet been vaccinated, the district encourages you to consider vaccination. Your physician is the best person to answer any questions you have about the vaccine.
A vaccine clinic will be held at St. Dominic School on Thursday, Oct. 28 from 3:00 pm—5:30 pm. Both COVID-19 (Pfizer) and flu vaccines will be available. See more information here.
If you cannot attend, Northfield Public Schools maintains this resource page with available vaccination locations.
Mental Health Support
The district continues to expand its mental health support systems for students. As you may know, the district added a school counselor this year at the Area Learning Center, Northfield High School, and Northfield Middle School. Also, the district has hired two positions to support students and families:
» Steve Ryan is serving as the district’s certified “life coach” and is available (upon referral) for middle and high school students. Many mental health issues do not require therapy and talking through issues with a skilled coach can be helpful. If you believe your child would benefit from Mr. Ryan’s services, you can contact him directly via email at email@example.com.
» When a student needs therapy, it can be challenging to find an appointment. The district has hired Danielle Olson as our mental health navigator. A licensed social worker, Ms. Olson can help families connect to available mental health services within the community. If you would like to take advantage of this service, you can contact mental health navigator Ms. Olson via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bright Spot: Healthy Ways Program Grant
Rice County has been selected as the first national replication of the Healthy Ways program. Formerly called “Healthy Harlem,” the program seeks to help “…children and families learn how to take better care of themselves, make thoughtful choices, and establish lifelong healthy habits.” Established by the Harlem Children’s Zone, a similar organization to Northfield Promise, Healthy Ways provides tools to help support children’s health. The Greenvale Park Community School will operate the program in Northfield. Jefferson Elementary will administer the program in Faribault. You can learn more about Healthy Ways here.
We are excited that Diego Calvario Bravo, a Northfield High School and St. Olaf College alumni, has been hired as the coordinator for this initiative.
Reminder: e-Learning Days for Weather Disruptions
While we don’t want to think too much about the upcoming winter quite yet, we know it is on its way. Please watch for an update after the MEA break with additional details about how the district will use e-Learning days this winter.
Once again, thank you for your partnership. The district values the trust you have in us to provide your child’s education. Please continue to be good to our friends and neighbors as we continue navigating the pandemic. Let’s keep moving forward together.
Matt Hillmann, Ed.D.