Dear Northfield School District Families,
I hope this message finds you warm and safe on this snowy day. Today’s update includes information about the Minnesota Department of Education “grow your own” grant that the district was recently awarded, share a reminder about e-Learning days for future weather-related closures, information about vaccination opportunities, an update about the exit criteria the district may use to scale back COVID-19 safety protocols in the future, and an update about the district’s strategic plan.
Grow Your Own Grant
I am proud to share that the Northfield School District has received a $288,000 Minnesota Department of Education grant to diversify our teaching staff. The grant will provide financial and professional support for approximately 15 people of color to earn their teaching certificates.
This grant aligns with the district’s anti-racism framework and seeks to have more students see themselves represented in our faculty.
As shared in previous family updates, we will use e-Learning days this year beginning with the second full-day cancellation of school for weather-related purposes. 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.
Upcoming COVID-19 vaccination opportunities and boosters for 16 and 17-year-old students
While vaccination is a personal choice, experts emphasize that it is the best tool we have to fight COVID-19. The latest calculation shows that 52% of district K-12 students have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Rice County Public Health is hosting a vaccination clinic for those five years and older on Dec. 14 at Faribault Middle School and on Jan. 6 at the Northfield Community Education Center. You can see more information about Rice County Public Health’s vaccination program here.
You can learn more about other vaccination opportunities using the Minnesota Vaccine Connector website.
The CDC is now recommending COVID-19 booster vaccinations for 16-and-17-year olds. You can learn more about this recent decision at the Northfield Hospital+Clinics website.
COVID-19 safety protocol exit criteria
Because vaccination is widely available for 5-to-11-year-olds, the district has developed a draft of the criteria used to reduce its current COVID-19 safety protocols. For clarity, reducing the current protocols is not imminent due to the current public health situation. Please consider reading this message from Northfield Hospital+Clinics CEO Steve Underdahl about the continued pandemic-related challenges.
The draft exit criteria offer a pathway based on public health guidance and focus on three metrics: student vaccinations and infection-based immunity, the influenza-like illness rate, and the county COVID-19 seven-day infection rate per 100,000 residents. As a point of reference, the current COVID-19 seven-day case rate per 100,000 residents in Rice County is 565.91.
The draft criteria will be presented to the school board on Monday, Dec. 13. No decision will be made at that meeting.
District Strategic Plan
As previously shared, the district has been working to update its strategic plan over the past several months. The board will consider the final draft at its meeting on Monday.
Thank you for your continued support and understanding. Difficult times challenge us but can also help forge a closer community. I appreciate all of you.
Matt Hillmann, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools