SoWashCo Response to the Governor’s Announcement

SoWashCo Response to the Governor’s Announcement
Posted on 12/16/2020
South Washington County Schools (SoWashCo) is reviewing the announcement from Gov. Tim Walz today, that prioritizes the return to school for elementary students in January. 

The state’s updated Safe Learning Plan allows school districts to choose either a hybrid or in-person learning model for elementary schools no earlier than Jan. 18. The Safe Learning Plan continues to recommend that middle and high schools follow previous protocols of consulting with health officials and reviewing the latest COVID-19 infection rates before shifting learning models. 

School districts do not receive advance notice of these announcements and will spend the next few days reviewing the guidance. Our goal is to provide an update for all grades before, or perhaps during, winter break. 

For schools to bring back elementary students, they must: 
  • Implement a rolling start that introduces no more than three grade levels into a building in a two-week time period.  
  • Start a COVID-19 testing program every other week for all school staff beginning Jan. 4.  
  • Require staff to wear face masks and face shields at all times.  
  • Add a clear barrier between the adults and students when educators cannot be six feet from students (whenever possible).
  • Require face coverings for all indoor physical activity (indoor recess, indoor physical education, gym exercising activities, etc.).  
  • Hold meals and specialist lessons in the classroom or outside (weather permitting).
We know that many families and staff wish we could share a definitive date for return, but we need more time to review and prepare for these new requirements. Additionally, every change to a different learning model requires staff and teacher planning days, management of logistics like school bus routing and school meals, and much more. 

This Friday, the SoWashCo Incident Command Team will meet to recommend the best path forward for the return of our youngest learners. The team includes health officials from Washington County, district administrators, teachers union leaders, principals, student and family representatives. 

Please note that your principal and other staff do not have additional information beyond what is shared here. 

Thank you for your support and understanding.