School Nurse Update
Posted by Sheina Showen, RN, PHN, LSN on 3/1/2021
Hello Hermantown School Community,
There have been more updates for schools from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) recently, so I would like to review some of the updates and changes with you.
Updates to the Safe Learning Plan
The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) has updated the Safe Learning Plan with changes to prioritize students returning to the classroom as much as possible. The plan may be found here: https://education.mn.gov/MDE/dse/health/covid19/ Some of the changes to be aware of include:
- Physical distancing (note that the distance for quarantine due to close contact with a positive individual remains 6 feet even with these changes):
- Early learning and elementary schools are now strongly recommended to keep 3 feet of physical distance between students. This will be a goal but is not a requirement.
- Middle and high schools must maintain 6 feet of distance between students whenever feasible. When 6 feet of distancing cannot be met, a minimum of 3 feet must be maintained.
- If the county 14-day case rate per 10,000 people drops below 10, there will be no specific minimum distance requirement. However, schools should continue to encourage as much distancing as possible.
- Regional Support Teams: there is no longer a requirement to consult with the Regional Support Team before making a learning model change. Schools may choose to consult with the team if there are questions, but it is not required.
- The internal Incident Command Teams should continue to monitor local and school community data. It is recommended to consider moving to a more restrictive model if Influenza- or COVID-19-like illness rates in the school reach 5% of the population.
- It is strongly recommended that students attending school through either an in-person or hybrid learning model receive a COVID-19 test every 2 weeks at one of the available testing sites to help identify any potential asymptomatic positive cases. https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/testsites/index.html
Since all of our schools have returned to some level of in-person programming, there have been positive cases of COVID-19 that have impacted each of our buildings. As a result, we have had some students and staff need to quarantine. There has been some confusion about both the contact tracing and the quarantine process, so I would like to offer some clarification.
When we receive notification that someone has tested positive for COVID-19, first we ask when their symptoms began. The infectious period starts 2 days prior to symptom onset. If there were no symptoms, the person is considered to be infectious 2 days prior to their positive test date. If the positive individual attended school during their infectious period, we will complete contact tracing to find out who they might have been within 6 feet of distance for a total of 15 minutes. This process involves checking seating charts in classrooms, specialists and buses as well as finding out about any sports/activities, childcare, lunchroom or other areas that person may have come into contact with others. Anyone identified as meeti anng the above criteria is considered to be a close contact of the case and will be notified of the need to quarantine.
There are other factors to consider as well when determining close contacts. For example, cases where students are together all day in an elementary classroom or students participated in a PE class or sporting event that involves a high level of exertion near each other may result in an entire class or group quarantined.
Quarantine for Close Contact
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) released Quarantine Guidance for COVID-19 that includes options for shortening quarantine to either 7 or 10 days in certain situations if specific criteria are met. The criteria to be met with a shortened quarantine include the following points up through the full 14 days after close contact:
- Wear a mask, stay 6 feet from others, wash hands, and avoid crowds or settings with people who are at risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
- Watch for symptoms until 14 days after exposure. If any symptoms occur, isolate from others right away and get tested.
[There really is no way to ensure all of these criteria are met in a school setting, so at this time we do not plan to use the 7 or 10 day quarantine options for students.]
Current recommendations from MDH states:
- Persons arriving in Minnesota from other states or countries, including returning Minnesota residents, are strongly encouraged to follow the recommendations in MDH’s Quarantine Guidance: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/quarguide.pdf practice self quarantine for 14 days after arrival by limiting their interactions to their immediate household.
- This recommendation does not apply to individuals who must cross state or country borders for work, study, medical care, or personal safety and security.
- Schools can determine if they will require any type of quarantine based on this recommendation.
- At this time, we do not plan to enforce a post-travel quarantine, however we strongly encourage utilization of COVID-19 testing surrounding travel. More information from MDH regarding travel guidance can be found here: https://staysafe.mn.gov/individuals-families/travel.jsp
- Daily symptom screening: Continue to screen your children daily for any symptoms before they come to school and keep them home if there are any symptoms found per the MDH Decision Tree.
- Reporting test results and quarantines: Please continue to report to your child’s school any COVID-19 test results or quarantine status for your child. We track this information for attendance and follow the Decision Tree guidelines for when children may return to school. The phone numbers to call for reporting are listed below.
Hermantown High School Nurse: 218-626-6015
Hermantown Middle School Nurse: 218-626-6211
Hermantown Elementary School Nurse: 218-626-6111
Again, we appreciate your support as we work together to bring our students back and keep our school community as safe as possible.
Sheina Showen, RN, PHN, LSN
Hermantown School District Nurse
218-626-6015 (High School)
218-626-6111 (Elementary School)