Dear Northfield School District Families:
I hope this message finds you well and looking forward to next week’s spring break (March 7-11.) I genuinely appreciate your partnership as we continue to adjust to new realities in many areas of our lives and community. Today I want to share with you information about changes to our COVID-19 safety protocols at the Northfield Community Education Center (NCEC), options for COVID-19 testing after spring break, and an update about our budget prioritization process.
Changes to safety protocols at the NCEC
Beginning March 7, 2022, the district will adjust the COVID-19 safety protocols at the NCEC to align with the rest of the district’s protocols. Face masks will become recommended but optional, and students and staff will no longer be required to quarantine if they are identified as close contact to someone with COVID-19. Of course, students and staff should stay home if they are sick and follow district protocols if they are exhibiting COVID-19 like symptoms. You can review the updated district protocols here. The reasons for these changes are as follows:
» The NCEC has not had a newly reported COVID-19 case since Feb. 11.
» The latest CDC updates no longer recommend indoor masking for child care centers in Rice County.
» The building’s influenza-like illness rate has remained below 5% for several weeks in a row.
As previously shared, the district would consider reactivating COVID-19 protocols at an individual school if the influenza-like illness rate were to exceed an average of 5% for a week.
In addition, the district will no longer require proof of vaccination for volunteers beginning March 14. This change is districtwide.
COVID-19 testing after spring break
Our current COVID-19 trajectory is excellent. We are seeing very few new cases reported and our influenza-like illness rates are well below 5% at each building. With many people traveling for spring break, the district encourages families to have their children take a COVID-19 test before attending school after spring break. If there are new cases due to travel, we want to limit any transmission at school. You can pick up free COVID-19 test kits from your school office this week or from the district office during spring break. Thank you in advance for your partnership in this effort.
Budget prioritization teams
I have previously shared information about the need for the district to reduce its expenditures by approximately $4.5 million over the next two years due to chronic state underfunding and projected declining enrollment.
Our budget prioritization teams have met twice. The groups include more than 60 people reviewing budgets for three areas: elementary schools, middle school/high school/Area Learning Center, and district services. The teams are working to prioritize programs and services that will give the district the best opportunity to achieve our strategic plan’s vision, commitments, and benchmarks. The teams are scheduled to meet two more times. The administration will use the recommendations from the committee and present a budget plan to the school board. To be clear, while we are aiming to prioritize expenditures to align with our strategic plan, there will be budget reductions. I will continue to update you about this process as it unfolds.
Once again, thank you for your partnership and support. I hope you all enjoy a wonderful spring break. As always, please contact me with any questions about the district.
Matt Hillmann, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools