by Mike Knaak
Now that the latest data for the school year is available, the Covid-19 dashboard is back on the Sartell-St. Stephen school district’s website.
The dashboard reports the current numbers of student and staff cases and absences for the last 14 days. The dashboard was posted Sept. 24 and will be updated every Thursday.
For the previous 14-day period, there have been 54 positive Covid-19 cases among students and 11 staff cases. Those numbers translate to 238 student absences and 22 staff absences.
District Human Resources Director Krista Durrwachter updated the school board on Sept. 20 with a matrix developed to guide decisions about when to adjust mitigation strategies. The matrix lists four levels of transmission starting with low and ending with high. There are five indicators for each level that include transmission rate, cases, positive tests and vaccination rate. Right now, the district is operating in a high transmission level because there’s significant community spread and that’s being reflected in students and staff.
During a time of high transmission, face coverings are required in all facilities at all times. No visitors are allowed in schools during the school day.
The StarTribune reported last week that the number of new Covid-19 in Central Minnesota has grown 12 percent since the end of June. The increase in patients has forced St. Cloud Hospital to open another intensive care unit. About half the ICU patients have Covid-19 and about 90 percent of Covid-19 patients are unvaccinated.
Stearns, Benton and Sherburne counties lag behind the statewide vaccination rate. Statewide, more than 73 percent of people age 16 and older have at least one dose. In Stearns County, the rate is 56 percent, 55.3 percent in Benton County and 57.1 percent in Sherburne County. For comparison, the vaccination rate is more than 80 percent in the Twin Cities, according to statistics from the Minnesota Department of Health.
School administrators will monitor Covid-19 cases and work with public health officials to adjust health policy planning.
In the case of significantly high transmission within a classroom or school building or the inability to appropriately staff a classroom/building, consideration will be given to temporary distance learning, the district policy states.
To be prepared if cases increase, administrators and principals have prepared contingency plans that cover scheduling, technology needs, food service, family communication and specific distance learning plans.
In case of increased cases among staff, the availability and substitute teachers, as well as the ongoing shortage of bus drivers, could affect learning plans and force distance learning.
Details about the district’s Covid-19 plans, including the dashboard and mitigation matrix, are available at the district’s website at www.sartell.k12.mn.us/COVID19_coronavirus.