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.
We are excited that MDE has approved the plan we presented to bring students back to school!
We are optimistic as we make these changes—not because the challenges are gone, but because we have some experience and have a stronger sense of what we are up against, how to react, and how not to react to various situations.
We have to assume that the absence of students and staff through new cases and contact tracing will be our most important challenge and most likely the biggest cause of frustration. Covid is not gone. The rules of contact tracing are still the same. Our vigilance to social distancing, reminding students, podding students, and implementing the highest levels of care is as critical in the next month as ever.
It is not a matter of if it happens; rather, it is a matter of how many are forced to leave with each positive case. This is the conversation we need to have with students. It is their team, or their concert, or their friends. The end goal is having school and every event with everyone there.
With that said, here is the return-to-school plan for Pierz Schools:
Dates to note:
Monday, January 11 - Move to Hybrid grades 5-12
Monday, January 18 - In-person, grades 5, 6, 10, 11, 12
Friday, January 22-25 - per current calendar year, these are non student days (PS-12)
Tuesday, January 26 - Preschool returns. PS-4 in person, grades 5-12 no school
Monday, February 1 - In-person, grades 7, 8, 9 (all students PS-12 are in person!)
To further explain our rationale:
We received a waiver on our appeal for starting hybrid Jan. 11. That waiver allowed us to by-pass the state proclamation that schools can only start bringing students back three grades at a time beginning January 18. However, the "three grades at a time" rule made it impossible for us to just be all in-person at the start of the 2nd semester. We were then faced with the issue of having to wait two weeks from whenever we start bringing students back.
—George Weber, Superintendent, Pierz Schools
Students in grades kindergarten through grade 4 will continue with in school learning as they have been. There won’t be any changes to classrooms and teachers until at least the end of the semester on January 22. Pending continued decreases in Covid cases in the school, community and county, we would like to bring preschool back to school at that time, on Tuesday, January 26th.
Students in grades 5-12 will return to a hybrid model where they attend 2 days a week in person and 3 days at home. The schedule will be Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday as assigned in November. If unsure what days your student should attend, students in grades 7-12 can find it in Synergy under student information. Students in grades 5 or 6 can check with their teacher. Attendance in person is required for these school days scheduled in person. Please be sure to contact the office on the days when your student needs to be absent and if it is health related, contact the nurse. You can use the Covid reporting form.
With so many changes in who will be attending in person or at home, we need to start fresh with a new meals survey. If your student is remaining in distance learning, you can still pick up bundled meals for them. Pick up will be Monday and Wednesday from 4:30-5:30 at the MAC door (door 22). You do need to complete a new survey.
Students who are in grades 7-12 are sent a survey each morning they are in the building to ask if they want salad for lunch and a to go meal. Remind your 7-12 students to complete it. You do not need to complete the new meal survey.
Students in grades 5 and 6 will be given a meal at the end of their day here for their next day of at home learning. You do not need to complete the new meal survey.
For students in grades 5 and 6 who need childcare on the days they are not in school, you can email Sarah Funk. Priority will be given to those with both parents classified as essential workers. If your student is currently attending childcare, you should have received an email about scheduling.
While we are excited to bring students into the building for learning, we still are challenged with how to get them here and back home. The rules for contact tracing have not changed; anyone within 6 feet of someone for more than 15 minutes who tests positive is considered exposed and will need to stay home from school. That said, the more parents who can drive their students, the less risk those students will be to being contact traced. Thank you for your continued support.
The announcements from the Minnesota Department of Education that were sent out late in the day on Wednesday, December 16th created many questions for schools throughout Minnesota.
It looked like there were some hard and fast rules regarding bringing students back “only” after January 18th and only in groups of three grades at a time every two weeks.
By Friday morning it looked like there may be some options for certain districts to make the case that there were plans in place for a more aggressive move back than that. Pierz drafted an appeal trying to make that case and we are fortunate that they have allowed some degree of flexibility.
We were approved to go to hybrid already on January 11th and allowed to do all of grades 5-12 at once rather than the “rolling start” model proposed by MDE. In addition, we do not need the minimum two days off/transition days that are also part of that proposal.
There are a number of other changes that are outlined in the latest guidance documents that we are evaluating to determine what we specifically must do. If any of you have looked into all of it, please be assured we will evaluate those that we consider to be, “too much of a change” from what we had been doing, if what we had been doing is working well in terms of staff and student safety.
For now, we want to assure you that we are not going to expect children to make dramatic changes to how we are operating our schools right now. Most of the new updates impact staff and not students, so we will analyze those internally to determine our expectations.
It is important that families continue to communicate with the school nurse about illnesses, symptoms and positive cases as we enter the new year. As we look to return students to the building, the nurse will coordinate the return date for students and staff to ensure risks of spread and exposure are minimal. You can complete this quick and easy form and the nurse will be in touch with you.
January 4-8: Students in grades K-4 will attend every day. Students in grades 5-12 will attend via Distance Learning. Students in grades 5 and 6 who were attending child care will attend child care. If you no longer need child care, please email Sarah Funk or let your classroom teacher know the student will be learning from home. Preschool students will not attend yet.
January 11-15: Students in grades K-4 will attend every day. Students in grades 5-12 will attend on a hybrid schedule of Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday. Students in grades 5 and 6 who were attending childcare on their distant learning day will attend child care. If you no longer need child care, please email Sarah Funk or let your classroom teacher know the student will be learning from home. Preschool students will not attend yet.
Busing: Busing continues to pose the greatest challenge for us to maintain the required distance to remove the risk of close contacts. We are so thankful for the parents who are willing to drive their students to and from school to relieve pressure on the bus capacity. Data shows that more students are traced as a close contact on the bus than in the classroom; if you can provide your students with a ride to and/or from school, it is greatly appreciated.
Meals: We will continue to provide meals for students who are learning from home. During the week of January 4th, we will use the survey requests that families submitted in November when we initially moved into Distance Learning for grades 5-12. We understand there were concerns on sending students prior to the holidays, so it is important we start fresh with new information regarding meals.
Whatever you can do to assist in having your child take a meal is very appreciated.
Please complete a new survey prior to January 11th as you determine which of your children will return to school and which students will continue to learn from home. We are asking every family to complete a new meal survey, all previous requests will be disregarded. This will be on the website the first week of January.
As we created the plan to provide meals to families during distance learning, we tried to create better options to increase accessibility. We hope families with students distance learning will sign up for the free meals provided. Funding for cooks, food, etc. is contingent upon daily meals served so we are providing several options.
For PS and students in grades 5-12 who have siblings in grades K - 4, we will be automatically sending meals home. The survey will ask if there are K-4 siblings so we can cross reference our list. Your preschooler and 5th-12th grade students will receive meals. For all other students, you can complete the survey and indicate whether a morning pick up or an afternoon pickup will work better for you. We will also be packaging meals for 5 days together into 3 and 2 days so you don’t need to make a daily trip. Specific questions or to request meal send an email to email@example.com
A: 7 - 12th graders will be required to log in and will attend class with their peers, via video. The high school students will have block classes where they attend only 4 classes each day so they will need to log in for part or all of the day depending on their class schedule.
Elementary students will have a designated teacher who will provide instruction, it will not be one of the regular classroom teachers simultaneously teaching both. These times will be more flexible and will not require a full day online, but will require time online during the day. It will be important that you have the overall capability to be available online; however, we understand there are times when technology can be unstable.
If parents are working, it will be necessary that the students can work independently online.
Parents and/or students should request homework through the office every time a student is absent. High school students can check in via Google Classroom and email directly with their teachers.
When a student is absent with COVID related symptoms, the waiting period for test results will be classified as a school excused absence and parents/students should request homework through the office.
If a test will not be attained, a household member is positive or family is undecided on getting a test, the student will be out for a minimum of 10 days as determined by the circumstances of the situation and will be transitioned to Distance Learning.
Parents need to communicate with the building nurse about test results to determine a return to school date.
Questions about returning to school due to health, should be directed to the building nurse. (Parents are asked to communicate with the building nurse any time COVID symptoms are present in any family member, testing is needed or has been done, or a family member is a close contact of a confirmed case.)
Questions about homework during an absence should be directed to the office secretary or classroom teacher.
Building principals should be contacted at any time if a parent has concerns or questions.
We received a report from a parent whose children have tested positive. These are in our middle school grades. Each case results in contact tracing and if your student is affected, you will receive a phone call and will be notified of the exposure date. Please read the message below; all information, steps and safety information remains the same.
As we received notification of a new positive case, we work with MDH to identify those who had close contact with the case, and communicate with them individually. The risk of exposure for other individuals present in the building on that date is no greater than the risk of contracting the virus in the general community.
For privacy reasons, we can’t share many details about the status of the person. At this time they are either staying home and/or working at home for at least 10 days, and any staff or students who have been in close contact with them have been notified that they must also stay home and/or work from home for 14 days. If you have not been contacted, you are not considered to be at higher risk, and there is nothing additional you need to do.
We have taken action to clean and sanitize the facility and are working closely with MDH to monitor the situation. To minimize further exposure, we continue to recommend implementation of the following strategies:
Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, chills, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell. Other less common symptoms include gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after you are exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. Not everyone with COVID-19 has all of these symptoms, and some people may not have any symptoms. Talk to your health care provider if you have questions or concerns about symptoms.
The Is it COVID-19? Website is Minnesota’s tool for identifying symptoms and when to seek medical help.
If you are positive for COVID-19, contact your human resource manager. They will help determine what next steps you need to take. Any personal health information employees provide to human resources will be maintained confidentially.
Resources that you may find valuable are:
Robyn Skwira RN, BSN, PHN
Licensed School Nurse
Executive Order 20-82 indicates that a school district or charter school that operates a hybrid or distance learning model “must provide school-aged care for Eligible Children at no cost during the time those children are not receiving instruction in the school building during regular school hours.”
The school-age care for children of critical workers is intended for extreme circumstances in which no parent or guardian is at home, due to employment as a critical worker. If it is a two-parent household and one is not a critical worker, the school is not required to provide free school-age care to the family. It is our hope that we will have the capacity to provide care for those who need it; please complete the survey sent from your classroom teacher. View the list of Tier 1 critical workers here.
Due to COVID-related circumstances, we will have to temporarily close fifth grade to in person learning immediately. We plan to have 5th graders back in school starting Tuesday September 29. This means some inconveniences for all of us. We will have parent pick of materials, Chromebooks and other homework tomorrow, 9/21, from 3-4:30 PM behind Pioneer Elementary near the preschool playground. Teachers will be contacting families directly on Monday and Tuesday this week, ensuring their child is ready for distance learning. Again, based on the information we have now, it is our plan to have 5th graders back for in-person learning on Tuesday, September 29.
Update - due to an additional case, 5th graders will now be back in school no later than Monday, October 5.
News and Updates
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