Student at a table playing with bear figurine toys

The school board approved updated health and safety measures for the start of the school year as COVID-19 continues to impact the community.

In the August weeks leading up to the start of a new school year, Spring Lake Park Schools leaders and the school board have been monitoring the situation with COVID-19.

“We’ve heard from many community members who share very different perspectives. We’ve worked to consider all perspectives as we address the factors influencing the beginning of this year,” said Jeff Ronneberg, superintendent, and Amy Hennen, school board chairperson in a message to district families.

Learning plan

The presentation to the school board outlined how the district is working to prioritize efforts that keep schools open and safe for learning with minimal disruptions – to individuals, classrooms, and schools.

Spring Lake Park Schools will be open – five days a week – for in-person learning. There will not be any transition in learning models to online or hybrid during this school year.

SLP Schools Online offers a state-approved K-12 online option for families who choose it. The school requires a trimester commitment and enrollment for the first trimester of the 2021-2022 school year will close Sunday, August 29. More information is available at SLP Schools Online.

A flexible model for masking

On Tuesday, August 24, the school board met to consider adjustments to specific health and safety measures before the beginning of the year. They specifically addressed the use of face masks – and approved a flexible approach based on virus transmission in Anoka County and in schools.

The district will have a baseline of strongly recommending the use of face masks for students and staff at all levels. Recognizing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Minnesota Department of Health, masking practices will be adapted during  times of high virus transmission following a COVID-19 Face Mask Decision-Making Guide.

As the school board met August 24, Anoka County numbers were 165.3 cases per 100,000 residents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines high transmission as greater than 100 cases per 100,000 residents on their County Data Tracker.  

During this time of high COVID-19 transmission, and beginning August 30, 2021:

  • Grades preK-6: Face masks are required for students and staff except when eating or outdoors. Medical exemptions will be considered on an individual basis. As transmission rates shift below 100, the practice will return to the baseline of strongly recommending masks. Before making a transition, district leaders will pause to consider trends in order to avoid unnecessary back and forth.
  • Grades 7-12: Face masks are strongly recommended. Vaccination is strongly recommended.
  • ALL: Face masks are required on transportation following federal requirements.

Quarantine: All grade levels

The school board also approved a quarantine plan based on current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Quarantine is required for:

  • Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19
  • Unvaccinated family members of those who test positive for COVID-19
  • Close contacts to a positive case who are unvaccinated and unmasked

Health office personnel will work with families to minimize the length of any quarantine and return healthy students to school as quickly as possible.

Quarantine is not required for close contacts who:

  • Are vaccinated and do not have symptoms
  • Are unvaccinated, wore a mask and do not have symptoms and interacted with a COVID-19 positive case who also wore a mask
  • Have had COVID-19 in the last 90 days and do not have symptoms

 Several additional health and safety measures remain in place as described in the Health and Safety Plan on the COVID-19 hub of the Spring Lake Park Schools website. This is also where regular updates to county transmission rates and school-level virus activity will be available weekly – on Wednesdays.

“We continue to be excited to welcome students to a new school year – one in which we’re learning in-person at school five days a week. We need the help and support of our community to do so, even when people disagree,” said Jeff. “Despite the questions and concerns about COVID-19, we know this is going to be a successful year of learning.”