Dear Northfield School District Families:
We bring 2021 to a close today. We have been through a lot together this year as a school community. There have been joys and sorrows. It has felt like a rollercoaster ride in many ways. As we reflect on 2021, I thank all of you for your continued support as we travel through this unusual time together as a school community and as fellow human beings. I know it has been difficult. I know our community doesn’t always agree on what the right strategies are to address the challenges but continue to be unified about our “why”: prioritizing uninterrupted in-person learning so we can prepare every student for lifelong success. Overall, I feel we have handled this adversity with patience, respect, and resilience. We maintain a sense of pragmatic optimism that better days are ahead. We don’t pretend to know when, but we keep moving forward together. That is a mark of a caring community.
As we close winter break and return to school on Monday, here are a few updates:
» This week, the CDC announced changes to their COVID-19 isolation and quarantine recommendations. The Minnesota Departments of Health (MDH) and Education have notified school districts they are working to adapt these recommendations for use in Minnesota schools. We will continue to use the MDH Decision Tree to guide our decisions about COVID-19-related quarantine and isolation. However, families can anticipate changes to quarantine guidelines in the near future.
» The district’s Cue COVID-19 testing center will begin appointments again on Monday, Jan. 3. You can learn more and make an appointment here.
» The district is continuing to prepare implementation of a “test-to-stay” option. This will allow students who are not fully vaccinated and identified as a close contact at school to continue attending classes with a series of negative COVID-19 tests. The definition of a close contact at school is being unmasked and within six feet of someone for 15 minutes who has tested positive for COVID-19. More information will be available late next week about the test-to-stay option. The COVID-19 tests used for this option are scheduled to be delivered early next week.
» There is a COVID-19 vaccination clinic being administered by Rice County Public Health at the Northfield Community Education Center on Jan. 6 from 3:30 pm—5:30 pm. Walk-ins are welcome but registration is preferred. You can learn more here. You can find other COVID-19 vaccination locations here.
» Please make sure to review the district’s e-Learning Day plans. For the rest of this school year, we will shift to an e-Learning Day when the weather or road conditions prevent the district from safely transporting students to school (what would have traditionally been a “snow day” closure.)
» Supply chain problems are creating a shortage of milk cartons. These shortages will impact numerous Minnesota school districts in January and reduce our milk inventory by approximately 50%. To prioritize milk being available at lunch, 100% fruit juice with added calcium will be served with breakfast based on product availability. Additional water stations will be available in cafeterias as well.
Once again, thank you for your partnership in 2021. It is valued. We look forward to having your students return to school on Monday to begin 2022. Happy New Year!
Matt Hillmann, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools