SDMA Weekly COVID Update - 10/28/2020

SDMA Weekly COVID Update - 10/28/2020
Posted on 10/28/2020

Hello SDMA Families and Staff.

This update includes a lot of important information, so please be patient with the length of this message.

School Closings- With a few school closings announced in the Chippewa Valley this week, the district has been fielding a few questions about whether schools will need to close in the SDMA. Moving instruction to the virtual environment is something for which schools in the SDMA are well prepared, but the district has every intention of staying open for in-person instruction if at all possible. Communications with the Dunn County Health Department and local healthcare providers are ongoing, and at this point, it is NOT being ordered or recommended that any of our schools close. 

The number of COVID-19 cases has been on the rise in Dunn County, but nowhere near the number of cases observed in the state or some other counties in the Chippewa Valley. This graph demonstrates how the case burden came down in Dunn County (dashed lines) at the beginning of the month and is now trending upward. The burden in Dunn County is well below the state burden (solid lines) in all age categories, but unfortunately the state numbers are so high that the lower local burden level is still concerning. If cases continue to increase at this rate (or higher) for the next few weeks, it is possible that some schools in our community might need to close.

The ability of our school district to employ six feet of distancing in all classrooms, along with a number of other strict mitigation measures, allows the SDMA to provide an in-person learning environment that is not available in many of the other school districts in the region. There is no evidence of COVID-19 spreading in SDMA classrooms. Even if the virtual learning environment is needed at some point in the SDMA, plans are being designed for the possibility of keeping buildings partially open for staff, students without internet access, students with special needs, and students whose parents are frontline workers in the medical field, etc. The district is also prepared to reallocate resources as needed to prioritize in-person opportunities for the youngest students in the SDMA if needed.

Pandemic Fatigue/Halloween Safety- Despite the fatigue that everyone is experiencing with the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time to hunker down a bit and do what it takes to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our community. While it is difficult to know with any certainty, it appears that the two days off of school on October 15-16 may have led to more out-of-school gatherings which resulted in a higher number of cases and exclusions with SDMA students and staff. Nearly all of the new cases in the SDMA have been linked back to recent family exposures. Please consider making a concerted effort with your family to limit contacts outside of your household and have everyone in your family Wash Up, Back Up, and Mask Up when needed.

With Halloween coming up this weekend, the Dunn County Community Recovery Team would like to encourage families to consider Safe Halloween Activities that help mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19 in our community. In addition to these recommendations, families may wish to consider the Drive-Thru Trick or Treating Event offered at Dunn Energy Cooperative from 1:00-4:00 pm on October 31.

And now for the COVID-19 data..........The data listed on the Dunn County Dashboard was updated today, and you can see that there is now a cumulative total of 1,066 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Dunn County (up from 900 last week) and 11,160 negative test results (up from 10,615 last week). The seven-day moving average for Dunn County is now at 22.7 cases per day, or 50.1/100,000 people (up from 11.6 cases per day or 25.5/100,000 people last week).

Some of the new cases this past week have been students enrolled in the SDMA. There is now a cumulative total of 39 confirmed student cases (up from 26 last week) of COVID-19 reported since September 1 with the following breakdown:

  • Menomonie High School-    24 (up from 18 last week)
  • Menomonie Middle School- 10  (up from 5)
  • Menomonie Elem. Schools-  5  (up from 3)

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 2,827 students participating in the in-person instructional model, the SDMA currently has 14 active student cases- 0.50% [up from 6 (0.21%) last week] with the following breakdown:

  • Menomonie High School-    7 (up from 2 last week) 
  • Menomonie Middle School- 5 (up from 2) 
  • Menomonie Elem. Schools- 2 (same as 2) 

There have been a total of 11 staff cases in the SDMA since the start of the school year (up from 5 last week), 4 of which have been deemed "recovered", so there are currently 7 active staff cases in the SDMA.

Today, 5.80% of the students in the SDMA were excluded from school due to close contacts, symptoms, or other COVID-19 concerns (up from 4.32% last week). The seven-day average for student exclusions in the SDMA is 5.04%.

The current breakdown of SDMA student exclusions includes:

  • Menomonie High School-     7.14% (up from 6.69% reported last week)
  • Menomonie Middle School-  4.83% (up from 3.47%)
  • Wakanda Elementary-          4.98% (up from 3.74%)
  • River Heights Elementary-    7.25% (up from 4.53%)
  • Oaklawn Elementary-            3.50% (up from 1.59%)
  • Knapp Elementary-               10.81% (up from 2.70%)
  • Downsville Elementary-         2.63% (up from 1.32%)
  • Menomonie 4K-                     4.82% (up from 3.01%)

COVID-19 Testing........With an increase in the number of people being tested for COVID-19, local healthcare providers are experiencing an increase in urgent care/emergency room use as well as unscheduled testing site visits which results in longer wait times, increased potential exposures, and inefficient use of limited medical resources. These health care providers have requested that schools refer families to their primary care provider or the COVID-19 helpline associated with that provider. Families may also want to consider the information about community testing sites that was shared earlier this month.

One final reminder for all families........daylight savings time ends this weekend, so please remember to turn back your clocks one hour when you go to bed on Saturday night. (Wisconsin Health and Safety Officials suggest that now is also a good time to change batteries in smoke detectors.) Hopefully everyone can enjoy an extra hour of rest and relaxation on Sunday.

Thank you.

Joe Zydowsky