It sure feels good to be back in the building with our students and fellow staff. We have missed the smiles and camaraderie that being together in a learning environment brings. We have had just a handful of days in the classroom so far this year, but paired with beautiful weather, motivated staff, and excited students--it's been some pretty wonderful first days.
We've also been fortunate to welcome nearly 30 new staff members to the Pierz Schools family. Almost all areas have gained a new face and with that a new perspective to share with us. To meet them all, click here. If you see them in their new community, don't be a stranger! Welcome them to this corner of the world that we get to call home.
Lastly, we can't ignore the elephant in the room: we remain diligent in our steps to ensure the health and wellness of our staff and students. Students and staff are welcomed to wear masks, hand sanitizing stations are still maintained, and teachers encourage social distancing and outdoor classes and activities. Masks are required on all busses. If your child or family members have symptoms of COVID, please contact the district nurse and make plans to keep them home for the recommended period. We can only keep in-person learning going if we can keep our students and staff healthy. We already have a number of reported positive cases and those parents of students in close contact will be notified (by the email the district has on file) so parents can make the best choice for their student. Same-household siblings of a positive case will also be required to quarantine. Please be diligent in monitoring your students for signs of illness.
Minnesota Department of Education has determined that the decisions regarding Covid Protocols and Distance Learning are to be made at the local School Board level this coming school year, as opposed to the Statewide Rulemaking that was implemented last year, with the exception of School Busing.
Masks will not be required in District 484 buildings. The district and staff are very supportive of those who choose to wear one. We support and accept all who choose to wear a mask in our schools and on our properties. Bullying of any person for reasons of mask wearing will be dealt with under the district’s bullying policy.
Close Contact Quarantine
The District will not be removing students or staff from school based upon close contacts with positive COVID-19 cases. Schools MUST report positive test results in accordance with MN Rule 4605.7070 (called Red Cap report) and require we report a case, name, grade, etc.
Parents will be notified via email if your child is considered a close contact of a confirmed case of Covid-19 among the students or adults working with your child.
Parents are provided this information so they can determine the best decision for their child and family.
Excused and unexcused absences will be managed using existing school policies. Covid related absences will be considered school excused.
Parents please do not send a child to school who is showing any signs of respiratory illness, coughing, sinus infection, etc. The school will be sending students home who present illness. Students are welcome back at school once their symptoms subside.
Student process as related to Positive Covid Cases
What are we required to do with a positive case of Covid?
a) That case must be reported to MDH.
b) Student must isolate for 10 days and return on day 11.
Student work will be provided to all children while they are home.
Loss of Taste and Smell is an almost universal indicator of Covid;
Therefore, when a student reports loss of taste and smell, it will be treated as a positive case of Covid, with the exception that a confirmed negative test, within the recommended testing time frame, would result in the student being allowed to return to school immediately.
Requirements for Students who are living within the same household of a student who has tested positive for Covid. Parent is advised to contact the school nurse to review the expectations.
-If the student is vaccinated, they may attend school unless they are showing symptoms of Covid, then they follow all current student illness protocols as outlined in the School Health Policy.
-Or, if a student is not vaccinated, and is symptom free for 5 days after exposure from a household positive, and the student then tests negative, they may return to school on day 8.
-Or, if a student tests negative, but has symptoms, review School Health Policy.
-Or, if a student does not produce a negative test, then they may return to school on day 11 of being symptom free.
Student work will be provided to all children while they are home.
Update on Busing
Public School Transportation is considered under the umbrella of all Public Transportation and not under the jurisdiction of MN Dept of Education. Therefore, MDE is not able to transfer that authority to local School Boards. Masks are still required on Public Transportation including all school bus routes. This is a Federal mandate we and every other school in Minnesota, private or public, is required to implement.
Pierz is adding another bus route to create more convenience for our students.
Our In-Town policy will change from last year. We will pick up students on the west side of Main Street this year, as well as pick up children at the licensed day care providers east of main street. Health experts highly encourage walking to school. It is a great way to get the brain ready for learning.
Bus routes are being developed right now and the Bus Route Drivers will be contacting parents later next week (those first few dates in September) to verify pick up and drop off times. As always, these are estimates as our routes change daily based upon preschool schedules and other factors. Parents and children should be ready 3 to 5 minutes prior to the pick up time.
Pioneer Elementary staff will walk students across Park Avenue and Kamnic Street after school.
Parent Drop Off Information
Students in grades PK-6 can be dropped off by door 20 of Pioneer, the “Student drop off/ pick up” door, between 7:30am and 8:15am. Students who wish to eat breakfast should arrive by 8:00am.
Students in grades 7-12 can enter door 7 (behind Healy) or door 3 (front of Healy) starting at 7:30am. Door 3 is the bus drop off point, if you as a parent are dropping off , please pull up to door 2 to avoid the busses.
Click here for a map of parking lots and where to drop off and pick up students.
End of day student pick up will be similar to last year. Parents will use the Remind app to notify staff when they arrive.
After reviewing the new recommendations this week from the CDC and MDE, the school board discussed our fall policy at their meeting on Wednesday. At this time, Pierz Schools will not be requiring masks for students or staff at any grade level this coming school year.
We will continue to be vigilant in our sanitizing and have invested in upgrades to our air quality standards.
We support any students or staff who prefer to wear a mask.
When the Minnesota Department of Education accepted the Federal Rescue (ESSER) money, each district accepting these dollars is required to post a plan for their the 2021-22 school year.
Pierz Schools is excited to look forward to the coming school year. To view the statement required to post, click here.
Our state and our nation is going through some challenging conversations and even self-reflection regarding how we treat one another as citizens regardless of where we come from and what we look like. Today our governor asked that all Minnesota residents pause to consider our role in making things better for everyone or anyone from this day forward. It is good for all of us, me included, to have these reminders from time to time. I contend that the reason we have Presidents Day honoring Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, or the reason we have MLK day honoring Martin Luther King, is that they remind us of why we are a nation in the first place, and remind us of the words in the Declaration of Independence, that we are obligated to implement in how we treat anyone, and everyone, every day. We can do our part in knowing what those words are and do our part to help everyone feel valued as a person.
— Superintendent George Weber
The Pierz community has seen a sharp increase in positive COVID cases over the past few weeks. We posted some information last week to keep you informed and share the data that we see. We are adding more information to update you with our facts as of today, Thursday, March 25.
The District maintains the goal of in-person learning. We know it is the best learning model, and we believe we are doing the best service for the most students, even though clearly it creates added challenges and work for many staff.
The Schools are:
We embrace parenting and community support to help us continue to have school. That includes:
Thank you for helping us get this far and finish this final stretch. Thanks to all our staff who continue to show up nonstop to make it work and implement many added rules and duties that are out of our control.
We have about 40 days left in this school year; let’s finish strong together. The Pioneer Way is to confront challenges and overcome obstacles: that is the part we can control.
In the past two weeks, the Morrison County COVID numbers have continued to rise rapidly, with the Pierz area specifically being of concern.
There is a lot of misinformation circling currently. Here are the facts of this recent uptick so far:
On March 1: The Morrison County 14-day case rate was 13.9. Pierz zip code cases were at 5; Hillman, 0; Buckman, 0; ISD 484, 0 cases
On March 11: The Morrison County 14-day case rate jumped to 28.4. Pierz zip code cases were at 34; Hillman, 9; Buckman, 0; ISD 484, 12 cases
On March 18: The Morrison County 14-day Case rate is now at 50.75. Pierz zip code cases have jumped to 73; Hillman, 18, Buckman, 3; ISD 484 has 21 active cases in our buildings.
We should not be surprised that we are seeing this resurgence. We knew there were additional, more contagious, strains working their way across the United States. The virus is (still) in our community. We still need to take all the precautions: masks, hand washing, social distancing.
As of today, we have approximately 200 students out due to Covid infection or contact tracing. Students who are positive can come back 10 days after their symptoms began, or 10 days after their positive test if they are asymptomatic. Students who are contact traced can return to school after 7-14 days depending on their circumstances. We know this won’t last forever. We know we will have students returning soon.
We have worked hard to keep students in school. We need our families and community to continue to do the same. If you (or anyone in your home) have symptoms, stay home. If you have test results coming, stay home. If you test positive, stay home. And please--in all these scenarios, let the school nurse know. The more we all work together on this, the more we decrease the chance of spread, exposure and contact tracing.
And yet, we are very fortunate. With 133 staff fully vaccinated, we will be able to continue teaching in-person as our staff will not be required to leave due to contact tracing. We will get over this hump. There is light at the end of this tunnel. We have less than 50 days of school left this year; we can do this, Pioneers!
Due to the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases that have impacted the Pierz area, Pioneer Elementary School and Healy High School will not be in session on Friday, March 19, 2021.
We are taking this day to hopefully provide some relief relative to this rapid spread. This will also allow staff some much needed time to catch up from the challenges the last 10 days have created by the number of students not able to attend school.
Those staff who are saddled with the challenge of teaching students who are at home while teaching those students who are in school simply cannot meet that challenge adequately when the numbers get too large. This is why many districts have gone to permanent 4-day weeks or days off every other week, etc. We, instead, have tried to maximize our in-person time by running our normal school day every day. For the most part, that has been working well and we are getting the most instructional time with the most students. Our goal is to modify it only when we have to, which is what we are faced with now.
We apologize for this inconvenience. We hope this wave passes quickly. We are very, very thankful for the resilience our staff have shown by pushing through these challenges as much as possible and keeping our expectations of learning to a high standard.
We also are very, very thankful students are doing all they can to keep school in session despite the added rules placed upon us. The same thanks goes out to our parents. It is a challenge. It is unfair to be the victim of contact tracing. We can minimize how it affects learning progress by doing all we can to keep the school year rolling and try to get the most out of each day we have.
We (staff, students and parents) can take pride in what we have done. Our challenges have been less than many others. Our combined efforts have yielded very good results across many grade levels, courses, and activities.Compared to what was lost last March, April and May, this school year so far has been very successful. It is not over, but we have made it to mid-March. We have had complete activity seasons, competitions, recent concerts, and we still look forward to the musical next week.
We appear to be blessed with an early spring which may help get more activities outside which also hopefully helps decrease the spread. We remain steadfast in our goal to give our students the best year possible, and we will continue to go above and beyond to get the most out of this school year.
Over the last two weeks we have experienced a significant increase in the number of students and staff who are experiencing Covid symptoms and who are testing positive. Just over a week ago, we had a day with Zero Staff and Zero Students. Today we have 8 positive cases and dozens of other students who had to leave based upon the contact tracing rules.
It is important that we share this information with you so you can implement whatever steps you need to make sure your child can continue to attend school and continue to participate in events.
Pierz Schools have made the commitment to proceed with In-Person Learning, as it has proven to be the most effective method of teaching and learning.
We are committed to giving your children the total school experience, which includes Band, Choir, Musical Performance, FFA competitions, Speech Competitions, in addition to our other clubs and all of our Athletic teams.
We are proud of our staff and students who continue to implement a normal school year and a normal activities year, even though there are a number of rules and precautions and distancing type requirements that make every experience slightly different and slightly more challenging.
We have accepted the fact that there are rules from the MN Dept. of Education as well as the MN State High School League that we must follow regarding the conditions upon which we can teach students and the conditions upon which any activity can be played and implemented.
We instead focus on the enjoyment that we get to have school and the pride in our work to make it successful, despite everything all of us are being asked to do. The next few weeks are going to include Band Concerts, Choir Concerts, Musical, as well as playoffs for Girls Basketball, Boys Basketball and Wrestling. We are going to do everything we can to give your child the total school experience.
News and Updates