SDMA COVID Update - 9/21/2020

SDMA COVID Update - 9/21/2020
Posted on 09/22/2020

Hello SDMA Families and Staff.

Today I am happy to report that the work that our staff at Menomonie High School did last week and over the weekend has allowed our school district to now get six feet of spacing in all learning areas across the school district. Now is a great time to thank our staff members at MHS who have gone great lengths over the past week to work through some very challenging circumstances. We are extremely lucky to have so many great educators in our school district, so please reach out to our teachers and staff to thank them as you see fit.

While the previous plans for the school district were well developed for mitigating the spread of COVID-19, our district's strict adherence to the medical guidelines for tracing close contacts made the previous model at MHS unsustainable when positive cases were identified.  Moving forward, the SDMA is in much better shape for handling cases and keeping more students in school.

Despite a rapidly increasing number of cases in Dunn County, the strong mitigation measures in the SDMA have allowed our schools to stay open. A very high percentage of the new cases in Dunn County are still at the college-age level. We continue to be in close communication with the health department and there are a few "pinch points" that need to be addressed if we want our schools to continue with in-person instruction and a full slate of student activities:

  • Anyone awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test needs to isolate themselves until receiving the results of the test. Two separate events that resulted in the highest number of students being isolated could have been prevented if people would have followed this protocol. Even if symptoms are minimal or not present, the nature of COVID-19 makes it very possible that an asymptomatic person could test positive.
  • Students need to follow gathering guidelines outside of school and during other less-structured periods. Having close contact with others outside of the school day can also have a significant impact for having a large number of students needing to quarantine based on close contacts. Mitigation efforts in our schools will fall apart quickly if students are gathering in the evenings or during the weekends. Students need to be mindful of their interactions upon arriving and departing schools, and during the passing periods and lunch time at MHS.

It is still our goal to provide in-person instruction and a full slate of student activities in the SDMA, but we need students and families to partner with us for this plan to be successful. We are hopeful that we will be able to get through the next couple weeks and have any isolated students (primarily at MHS) return to a more stable environment, but everyone's decisions over the next several days will have a huge impact on the next steps in our schools.

Thank you for your continued support and your kind attention to this message.

Joe Zydowsky