SDMA Weekly COVID Update - 12/16/2020

SDMA Weekly COVID Update - 12/16/2020
Posted on 12/16/2020

Dear SDMA Families and Staff,

Season's greetings from the School District of the Menomonie Area!

Winter break in the SDMA runs from Wednesday, December 23 to January 3, so this will be the last regular SDMA COVID Update in 2020. If anything drastically changes over the break, information will be communicated as necessary, otherwise the next update can be anticipated on Wednesday, January 6.

Dunn County 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 3,212 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Dunn County (up from 3,039 last week). According to the Dunn County Facebook page, there are currently 291 active cases in Dunn County and 16 people hospitalized due to COVID-19 (455 and 16 last week). The seven-day moving average for new cases in Dunn County is now at 29 cases per day, or 65 cases/100,000 people (down from 33 cases per day or 72 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 has continued to stabilize over the past week. The updated burden chart shows how the burden level in Dunn County has dropped from the "Critically High" level (above 1,000) to the "Very High" level (below 1,000) and the trajectory is decreasing. The case burden in Dunn County has dropped from 2,046 on November 25 to 860 today. Testing continues to track lower and positivity rates are still concerning, so people should remain very cautious about possible exposure to COVID-19. Anyone with potential COVID-19 symptoms is encouraged to get tested and may want to take advantage of free surge testing being offered at UW Stout (closed December 24-January 3) or the free testing service supported by the Wisconsin National Guard. It appears that our area was able to avoid the predicted spike in cases following the Thanksgiving holiday, but there is concern about what might happen if people have gatherings for Christmas and New Year's. The timing between holidays could make gatherings on New Year's Eve especially dangerous. Please consider this message from the Dunn County Community Recovery Team.

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 135 confirmed student cases of COVID-19 (up from 120 last week) with the following breakdown:

  • Menomonie High School-    70 (up from 65 last week) *there are also two "probable" cases that have not been confirmed
  • Menomonie Middle School- 36  (up from 35)
  • Menomonie Elem. Schools- 28  (up from 26) *this includes one case from early November that was just reported to the district this week.
  • 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 2,619 students now participating in the in-person instructional model, the SDMA currently has 8 active student cases- 0.23% [up from 3 active cases (0.17%) last week with less in-person enrollment]. The breakdown of active student cases includes:

  • Menomonie High School-     6 (up from 0 last week) *four cases were confirmed and two cases are "probable" cases 
  • Menomonie Middle School-  1 (same as 1 last week) 
  • Menomonie Elem. Schools-  1 (down from 5 last week)
  • Menomonie 4K-   0 (same as 0)

Seeing an uptick in MHS student cases just three days after reopening for in-person instruction is concerning, but it should be known that the probable cases and two of the confirmed cases were linked to exposures from before the school reopened, and two of the cases are likely linked through a specific student activity outside of the school day. We will continue to watch this very closely, but the school nurse has not identified anything with these new cases that would indicate transmission during the school day.

Today, 3.97% of the students in the SDMA were excluded from school due to close contacts, symptoms, or other COVID-19 concerns (down from 4.73% last week). The 7-day average for student exclusions across the SDMA is 5.22%. 

The current breakdown of SDMA student exclusions includes:

  • Menomonie High School-      3.73% (virtual until this week)
  • Menomonie Middle School-   3.28% (down from 4.05% last week)
  • Wakanda Elementary-           4.17%  (up from 2.56% last week)
  • River Heights Elementary-    7.85%  (down from 15.70% last week)
  • Oaklawn Elementary-            0.67%  (down from 1.00% last week)
  • Knapp Elementary-                0.00%  (same as 0.00% last week)
  • Downsville Elementary-         5.41%  (up from 0.00% last week)
  • Menomonie 4K-                     7.10% (down from 13.61% last week)

SDMA Staff COVID-19 Data
There have been a total of 45 staff cases in the SDMA since the start of the school year (up from 44 last week), 44 of which have been released from isolation, so there is currently 1 active staff case in the SDMA (same as 1 last week). Today, 1.95% of the 565 district staff members were excluded from work for COVID-19 reasons (down from 2.83% last week). The 7-day average for staff exclusions across the SDMA is 2.86% (down from 2.91% last week). 

Even though this snapshot shows some 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, and I wish all SDMA families and staff Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.


Joe Zydowsky