River Grove’s Response to the Rising COVID Cases in Our Area, 1/4/22

Dear River Grove Community

Yesterday, our school’s COVID response team met to discuss the ongoing rise in cases. The Omicron variant is already causing a significant surge in positive cases in our area.

Two of our major concerns are the health and safety of our students and families, and our ability to adequately staff classrooms and essential services if cases trend significantly upwards.

We are ordering more testing kits, masks, cleaning supplies, etc., and have begun the process to ensure that we have sufficient technology inventory (Chromebooks, cables, hotspots, software, etc.) should we need to go to distance learning for a period of time.

We have decided to implement the following safety protocols, and to send a few reminders. Further action may be taken as conditions require.

  • The most effective way to mitigate the effects for students and adults alike is to be fully vaccinated, if eligible.
  • Don’t send students to school sick, even if it is just a “slight cold.”
  • Please continue to communicate with the school regarding symptoms, testing, and positive results.
    • Email attendance@marineareaschool.org to report your child’s absence for any reason.
  • If you or your child has symptoms of any kind, please get tested.
    • Visit this Washington County webpage for the latest testing location information: https://www.co.washington.mn.us/3304/Get-Tested-for-COVID-19
  • We will implement a few changes in the school to reduce mixing of cohorts and increase safety protocols:
    • Buddy classes: Mixed classes for “Experience Fridays” are on hold for the time-being. Project- and place-based learning will continue, however!
    • Lunches: As soon as we are able, lunches will be served in classrooms. Until then, we will increase ventilation and fresh air flow in the cafeteria where possible.
    • After-school clubs: We have postponed all indoor after-school clubs.
    • Concerts: Our vocal and band/orchestra concerts may be postponed.
    • Fresh air: Ventilation will be increased in classrooms as much as is sensible and possible.
    • Visitors and volunteers to campus: Will be limited.
    • Masks: Recent guidance suggests that the most effective masks in preventing the Omicron variant are N95, KN95, or to a lesser degree surgical masks. The school strongly encourages these more effective masks for all staff and students. (See https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20211229/cloth-masks-vs-surgical-n95-what-to-know. )
    • Bus transportation: If you are able to transport your students to and from school instead of using the bus, please consider making the switch. This will significantly reduce the possibility of quarantining large mixed cohorts of students. If you can make that switch, please email transportation@marineareaschool.org.
  • Quarantine and distance learning preparations:
    • We believe it is highly likely there will be a further rise in the number of students in quarantine, and so we are planning ahead for that likelihood.
    • The COVID response team and Board of Directors will discuss the threshold for when a class or the whole school enters distance learning.
    • As parents, you can prepare for your kids to be online if in quarantine/”DL.”
  • Quarantine guidelines from MDH:
    • Recently, the CDC updated its quarantine guidelines. The school is following current guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health. Although MDH’s guidelines may be updated soon because of recent CDC changes, they have not changed as of this writing.

It is the desire of River Grove’s administration and staff to remain in-person as the school’s primary learning model. However, the Omicron variant is anticipated to present new and unique challenges. We are asking all families to adhere to our COVID guidelines to the best extent possible and to also continue to be patient with us as we navigate through this difficult time. We greatly appreciate your partnership and will continue to work on your behalf to keep students safe and attending learning in-person.

Thank you,

The COVID Response Team

Important Notice Regarding Bussing

The school continues to struggle to fill our open bus driver vacancy (on the Red route) in an extremely challenging marketplace. Additionally, all of our backup driver resources are in use at this time, which means we will have to cancel routes in the event of a driver illness, emergency, etc. We continue to search for permanent and substitute bus drivers. If you utilize school transportation services, please be prepared for potential short- or long-term disruptions.

If your students are on the Red route, we will contact you soon regarding the possibility of parent transportation, meeting another bus at a hub stop, or another solution to the situation.

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