SDMA Weekly COVID Update - 11/18/2020

SDMA Weekly COVID Update - 11/18/2020
Posted on 11/18/2020

Hello SDMA Families and Staff.

News was shared last week that Menomonie High School would be moving to the virtual learning environment. Yesterday, information was sent to families about the opportunity to change their child's enrollment from the in-person learning model to the new K-8 Safer-at-Home learning model if desired. Please be reminded that all online enrollment requests for moving from in-person learning to the new K-8 Safer-at-Home learning model must be received by noon on Friday, November 20, and anyone wanting to begin or continue participation in the Free Meals for Kids program after Thanksgiving break needs to sign up using this online form. Also, please remember that there will be no school for K-8 students 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 on Wednesday, November 25-Friday, November 27. There will not be an SDMA Weekly COVID Update sent out next week.

The data listed on the Dunn County Dashboard was updated today, and you can see there is now a cumulative total of 2,161 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Dunn County (up from 1,735 last week). According to the Dunn County Facebook page, there are currently 553 active cases in Dunn County and 27 people hospitalized due to COVID-19 (up from 547 and 14 last week). The seven-day moving average for Dunn County is now at 67.3 cases per day, or 148.3/100,000 people (up from 55.5 cases per day or 121.5/100,000 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 101 confirmed student cases (up from 89 last week) of COVID-19 with the following breakdown:

  • Menomonie High School-    55 (up from 50 last week)
  • Menomonie Middle School- 29  (up from 24)
  • Menomonie Elem. Schools- 16  (up from 15)
  • Menomonie 4K-   1 (up from 0)

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 1,878 students now participating in the in-person instructional model, the SDMA currently has 10 active student cases- 0.53% [down from 34 (1.20%) last week with enrollment that included MHS] with the following breakdown:

  • Menomonie High School-     1 (down from 15 last week) 
  • Menomonie Middle School-  7 (down from 12 last week) 
  • Menomonie Elem. Schools-  2 (down from 7 last week)

There have been a total of 42 staff cases in the SDMA since the start of the school year (up from 37 last week), 33 of which have been released from isolation, so there are currently 9 active staff cases in the SDMA (down from 13 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 a number of staff members that need to quarantine for a variety of reasons, approximately 7% of the 565 district staff members are currently excluded (down from 10% last week). Staffing continues to be a significant challenge in the SDMA. Since a number of high school staff members continue to be needed to support staff exclusions at the middle and elementary school levels, MHS will remain in the virtual learning environment for the foreseeable future in order to keep the K-8 schools open.

Today, 10.75% of the students in the SDMA were excluded from school due to close contacts, symptoms, or other COVID-19 concerns (down from 12.6% last week). 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-  19.41% (up from 18.02% last week)
  • Wakanda Elementary-          16.57%  (up from 11.45% last week)
  • River Heights Elementary-    12.35% (down from 13.86% last week)
  • Oaklawn Elementary-            8.01%  (up from 7.37% last week)
  • Knapp Elementary-               12.00%  (up from 8.00% last week)
  • Downsville Elementary-         14.81% (up from 11.11% last week)
  • Menomonie 4K-                     25.44%  (up from 6.51% last week)

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 the health department might close a school 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 some numbers appear to be retreating and 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 still greatly reduce the likelihood of needing to quarantine or isolate due to a COVID-19 exposure. What people decide to do over deer hunting weekend and Thanksgiving break will probably determine whether or not our schools will be able to remain open.

Thank you.

Joe Zydowsky