River Grove’s Masking Guidelines and COVID Mitigation for 2021-22

Updated August 12, 2021. This info may be updated frequently.

Once again, welcome to 2021-22 at River Grove! We are looking forward to and busily planning for a school year that proactively takes advantage of our amazing campus. 

The River Grove COVID task force, teachers, administration, and Board of Directors have carefully considered all of the information pertaining to current COVID conditions, and we have listened to viewpoints from our parent community. None of our decisions were made lightly.  

River Grove’s mask policy is subject to change due to updated recommendations, requirements, and guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health, the Minnesota Department of Education, and/or the CDC. 

River Grove’s Masking Guidelines

  • Follow the strong recommendations from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about masking being a critical way to protect children who cannot yet get vaccinated, along with others who are not vaccinated
  • Are similar to the current policies of local resident districts 834 and 831 but with stronger emphasis on mask-wearing
  • Provide clarification for those opting out of masks, and explain quarantine protocol differences that may be required as a result of not wearing masks
  • Could lead to more overall levels of masking and easier/more effective management, which in turn leads to the potential for fewer students on quarantine
  • Honor parental choice through the optional waiver
  • Allow teachers and staff to know which parents definitely want their children to wear masks

The central point in all of our planning is that our school has many built-in advantages: outdoor classrooms and hallways, fresh air ventilation, and separate buildings that provide “bubbling” advantages. The time spent indoors will be significantly less than in other schools and exposure to multi-grades will be less. 

Indoor Masking 2021-22
  • In accordance with CDC and MDH recommendations, all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to River Grove are required* to wear face coverings, regardless of vaccination status, while indoors.
    • *Exceptions: 
      • Student Waiver: 
        • Parent(s) may elect to sign a waiver, allowing a student to not wear a mask for reasons such as documented medical conditions, being vaccinated for COVID-19 or having active antibodies, and parent choice. 
        • Via the waiver, the parent(s) will acknowledge that quarantine protocols may affect unmasked and masked students differently. In other words, in the event of a COVID exposure, the unmasked student may be required to quarantine while the masked student may not. 
      • Staff and Volunteer Waiver: 
        • Staff and volunteers may sign a waiver, exempting them from wearing a mask for reasons such as documented medical conditions, being vaccinated for COVID-19, or having active antibodies. 
        • Staff and volunteers will be ineligible for waivers if caseloads reach “substantial” or “high level” as defined by the CDC for a period of two consecutive 7-day windows.
      • For both student and staff waivers, signers will acknowledge that River Grove’s mask policy is subject to change due to updated recommendations, requirements, and guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health, the Minnesota Department of Education, and/or the CDC. In addition, the waivers will be void if an agency of the State or Federal government mandates masks in public school buildings.
      • If a student does not have a signed waiver, River Grove assumes the parent agrees to the required mask guideline.
  • Per Federal and State requirements, masks will be required on all buses.
Outdoor Masking 2021-22
  • No masks will be required outside.
    • No masks required on pathways/outdoor hallways, including after arrival and during dismissal when outdoors.
    • River Grove classes will be outside as much as possible for 2021-22.

River Grove’s Mitigation Strategies

The CDC and MDH strongly recommend that children return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with layered prevention strategies in place. River Grove’s mitigation strategies include:

  • Students will be outside whenever possible
  • Indoor ventilation: Windows and doors will be open as much as possible to allow fresh air in
    • Our lunchroom has an industrial-sized ISO-Aire™ commercial-grade air filtration system, and an excellent ventilation system of large windows and ceiling fans
  • Classes will maintain cohort “bubbles” especially when indoors
  • Weekly testing will be available for students and staff
  • We will encourage mask use for students and staff when indoors
  • We will continue to clean and disinfect regularly
  • Per CDC/MDH guidelines, we will maintain distancing of 3 to 6 feet wherever possible
  • Stay home if/when sick
  • Please stay tuned for our complete quarantine policy

Important Notes on Masking and Class/School Culture

River Grove’s teachers, administration, and staff are experienced in and aware of the many social-emotional pressures that students face daily. Students who feel their experiences and viewpoints are unwelcome, judged, or stereotyped may not learn in the same way that other students might. River Grove emphasizes the importance of inclusive classroom culture where all students are respected, honored, and feel safe. River Grove has a zero tolerance for bullying of any kind. These policies will apply to mask wearing (or not) and other COVID protocols.

At River Grove we believe that emphasizing positive behavioral traits is an important step in building the character of the students. Our teachers and staff have chosen the acronym “PRIDE” (Perseverance, Respect, Integrity, Discovery, and Excellence) to represent the behaviors we wish to see in students, including respect for those who may make different masking choices. These behaviors will be celebrated and reinforced throughout the year. 

We hope that families will participate in focusing on these positive traits at home in partnership with the school.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to the School Director, Drew Goodson: dgoodson@marineareaschool.org.

We sincerely thank you for your continued support during this challenging time!