SDMA Weekly COVID Update - 11/11/2020

SDMA Weekly COVID Update - 11/11/2020
Posted on 11/11/2020

Hello SDMA Families and Staff.

Earlier this week news was shared that Menomonie High School is moving to the virtual learning environment until at least November 30. In order for teachers to have time to plan and provide individual support for students still finishing up the first quarter, there is no school for high school students the rest of this week, November 11-November 13.

In-person schooling will continue at Menomonie Middle School and at each of the SDMA Elementary Schools and 4K sites, but in order to give these teachers time to collaborate, provide individual support for students who have been excluded, and to plan for upcoming lessons, there will be no school for 4K-8th grade students on Monday, November 23 and Tuesday, November 24. 

During the week of Thanksgiving, MHS students will have virtual schooling on November 23-24 and there will be no school for any SDMA students or staff members on Wednesday, November 25-Friday, November 27. 

As can be seen in the cumulative and daily case graphs, the number of county COVID-19 cases continues to increase across all age demographics, and there was an especially high increase this week in the 50-59 age bracket.

The Dunn County Dashboard was not functioning this evening, but according to the Dunn County Facebook page, there is a cumulative total of 1,775 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Dunn County (up from 1,376 last week). There are currently 547 active cases in Dunn County and 14 people hospitalized due to COVID-19. The seven-day moving average for Dunn County is now at 55.5 cases per day, or 121.5/100,000 people (up from 33.7 cases per day or 74.3/100,000 people last week).

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 89 confirmed student cases (up from 64 last week) of COVID-19 with the following breakdown:

  • Menomonie High School-    50 (up from 42 last week)
  • Menomonie Middle School- 24  (up from 14)
  • Menomonie Elem. Schools- 15  (up from 8)

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 34 active student cases- 1.20% [up from 24 (0.85%) last week] with the following breakdown:

  • Menomonie High School-    15 (down from 17 last week) 
  • Menomonie Middle School- 12 (up from 5 last week) 
  • Menomonie Elem. Schools-   7 (up from 2 last week) 

There has been a total of 37 staff cases in the SDMA since the start of the school year (up from 28 last week), 24 of which have been released from isolation, so there are currently 13 active staff cases in the SDMA (down from 21 last week). Unfortunately, some staff members have not been well enough to return to work immediately after being released from isolation, so it is not appropriate to consider all staff cases released from isolation as "recovered". Including the positive cases, those not fully recovered, and other staff members that need to quarantine for a variety of reasons, approximately 10% of the 565 district staff members are currently excluded (up from 8% last week). With the number of active staff cases declining, hopefully our staff members can all get well and the high school will be able to return to in-person instruction soon.

Today, 12.6% of the students in the SDMA were excluded from school due to close contacts, symptoms, or other COVID-19 concerns. This total does not factor in any high school students now that MHS has been moved to virtual learning. 

The current breakdown of SDMA student exclusions includes:

  • Menomonie Middle School-  18.02% 
  • Wakanda Elementary-          11.45% 
  • River Heights Elementary-    13.86% 
  • Oaklawn Elementary-            7.37% 
  • Knapp Elementary-                8.00% 
  • Downsville Elementary-         11.11% 
  • Menomonie 4K-                      6.51% 

With an increasing number of students excluded for positive cases or quarantined for close contact exposures, we will continue to watch these numbers very closely. It has already been shared that a school may need to close if 20% of students are excluded for a sustained period of time. It is our intent to keep our schools open if possible, but the current trend of increasing student cases and close contact exposures will need to be brought under control for this to happen.

The good news is that we all can have a productive impact on COVID-19 spread in our schools and in our community. Avoiding unnecessary gatherings, washing up, masking up, and backing up can greatly reduce the likelihood of needing to quarantine or isolate due to a COVID-19 exposure. With most school-reported COVID-19 cases traced back to family exposures or other out-of-school gatherings, it appears that mitigation measures have been successful in our schools. While there is no reasonable way to fully eliminate possible exposure to COVID-19, strict adherence to these mitigation measures can be effective in reducing risk in our personal lives as well.

Thank you.

Joe Zydowsky