SDMA COVID Update- MHS to Reopen 12/14

SDMA Weekly COVID Update- MHS to Reopen 12/14
Posted on 12/10/2020

Hello SDMA Families and Staff.

Greetings from the School District of the Menomonie Area. There is a lot of information in this week's update, so information will be grouped in the sections below:

Menomonie High School Returns to In-Person Learning on Monday, December 14
The COVID-19 data for Dunn County has continued to improve, and the number of active student and staff COVID-19 cases has continued to stabilize at a more manageable level. After considering a ton of information and communications from many SDMA students, parents, staff members, and the health department, it has been decided that MHS will be returning the In-Person Learning Model on Monday, December 14. Hopefully the staffing shortages in the SDMA which caused the high school to move to virtual instruction in November will not be a problem moving forward, but as we have all seen with this pandemic, the future is very difficult to predict. District administration will continue to monitor the data closely and respond as needed.

SDMA Guidelines for Abbreviated Quarantine Options
Last week the CDC released new guidance to allow for abbreviated quarantine options for some situations. Depending on specific circumstances, some students and staff with no COVID-19 symptoms may be able to exit close contact quarantine at 7 days (with a negative test) or 10 days without a test. Since there is a slight chance that someone could still develop COVID-19 throughout the 14-day time period, strict adherence to symptom monitoring and mitigation measures (distancing and mask use) are required. Here is a link to the new guidelines that have been developed for operationalizing these options for students in the SDMA. Questions about the new abbreviated quarantine options in the SDMA should be directed to your building principal and/or health assistant.

SDMA COVID-19 Data Update
The data listed on the Dunn County Dashboard was updated today, and you can see there is now a cumulative total of 3,039 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Dunn County (up from 2,863 last week). According to the Dunn County Facebook page, there are currently 455 active cases in Dunn County and 16 people hospitalized due to COVID-19 (down from 580 and 18 last week). The seven-day moving average for new cases in Dunn County is now at 33 cases per day, or 72 cases/100,000 people (down from 55 cases per day or 121 cases/100,000 people last week).

As can be seen in the cumulative and daily case graphs, the number of new COVID-19 cases in Dunn County have stabilized a bit over the past week. Testing has also been lower since Thanksgiving, so it is difficult to use recent data to make decisions. Anyone with potential COVID-19 symptoms is encouraged to get tested and may want to take advantage of the free surge testing being offered at UW Stout. It is still very important to take precautions, but the predicted spike in cases following the Thanksgiving holiday does not appear to be materializing in our community. This updated burden chart shows how the burden level in Dunn County is expected to drop from "Critically High" to "High" and the trajectory is now decreasing. The case burden in Dunn County has dropped from 2,046 on November 25 to under 1,000 today. 

SDMA Student COVID-19 Data
Some of the new cases this past week have been students enrolled in the SDMA. Since September 1, there is now a cumulative reported total of 127 confirmed student cases of COVID-19 (up from 120 last week) with the following breakdown:

  • Menomonie High School-    65 (up from 64 last week)
  • Menomonie Middle School- 35  (up from 34)
  • Menomonie Elem. Schools- 26  (up from 21)
  • Menomonie 4K-   1 (same as 1)

Many of the student COVID-19 cases in the SDMA have already been deemed "recovered", and a number of students have been released from the mandatory isolation period. With 1,735 students participating in the in-person instructional model, the SDMA currently has 6 active student cases- 0.35% [up from 3 active cases (0.17%) last week] with the following breakdown:

  • Menomonie High School-     0 (down from 3 last week) 
  • Menomonie Middle School-  1 (up from 0 last week) 
  • Menomonie Elem. Schools-  5 (up from 0 last week)
  • Menomonie 4K-   0 (same as 0)

Today, 5.82% of the students in the SDMA were excluded from school due to close contacts, symptoms, or other COVID-19 concerns (up from 4.73% last week). The 7-day average for student exclusions across the SDMA is 5.89%. This total does not factor in any of the students not receiving in-person instruction.

The current breakdown of SDMA student exclusions includes:

  • Menomonie Middle School-   4.05% (down from 5.01% last week)
  • Wakanda Elementary-           2.56%  (down from 5.45% last week)
  • River Heights Elementary-   15.70% (up from 6.83% last week)
  • Oaklawn Elementary-            1.00%  (down from 3.34% last week)
  • Knapp Elementary-                0.00%  (same as 0.00% last week)
  • Downsville Elementary-         0.00%  (down from 5.41% last week)
  • Menomonie 4K-                    13.61% (up from 2.96% last week)

SDMA Staff COVID-19 Data
There have been a total of 44 staff cases in the SDMA since the start of the school year (up from 43 last week), 43 of which have been released from isolation, so there is currently 1 active staff case in the SDMA (same as 1 last week). Today, approximately 2.83% of the 565 district staff members were excluded from work for COVID-19 reasons (up from 2.65% last week). The 7-day average for staff exclusions across the SDMA is 2.91%. 

Even though this snapshot shows some very encouraging data, now is not the time to relax strict mitigation measures. Avoiding unnecessary gatherings, Washing Up, Masking Up, and Backing Up are still extremely important mitigation measures for reducing the likelihood of needing to quarantine or isolate due to a COVID-19 exposure. If you or anyone in your family has been exposed to COVID-19 and/or is experiencing possible COVID-19 symptoms, please get tested, stay home, and help stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

Thank you.

Joe Zydowsky