Welcome to the 2020-2021 School Year

Welcome to the 2020-2021 School Year
Posted on 08/31/2020

Dear SDMA Families and Staff,

This crazy summer of planning is finally coming to an end. We cannot wait to start school in the SDMA and see our students either virtually or in-person. It has been far too long since students occupied our buildings, so the teachers and staff in the SDMA really miss our kids! Please refer to the informational updates previously sent by your child's principal or virtual school coordinator for back-to-school details, but the 2020-2021 school year in the SDMA officially begins on Tuesday, September 1.

While I am very proud of all of the collaborative work that has gone into the development of the SDMA Reopening Plan, the school district fully realizes that the plan may need to be adjusted as we learn more about COVID, as circumstances change in our community, and as we recognize what is or is not working in our schools. While it is appreciated that everyone has their own values and opinions that need to be considered, please extend some patience and understanding toward our teachers, administrators, other school district employees, and our community partners (eg. Menomonie Transportation) as we all do our best to work together and provide the best possible experience for ALL our children during this challenging period in time. 

A few important reminders and updates to start the school year include:

  • Screening- It is very important that families do not send children to school if they are sick, exhibiting symptoms, or have been possibly exposed to COVID-19. This is the very best mitigation strategy that we have for stopping the spread of the virus. It is imperative that families please follow the Stay-At-Home Guidance and conduct Daily Symptom Checks before sending a child to school.
  • School Exclusion Criteria- Guidance on the criteria for excluding children from school has changed over the summer. This flowchart makes it easier to understand the most recent guidance.
  • Face Coverings- While face coverings will be required in all schools in accordance with the SDMA Guidance on Face Coverings, there has been some confusion about the use of neck gaiters. Neck gaiters will be allowed as long as there are two layers of fabric. Face coverings will be available at school for those who need them, but families are encouraged to provide their own when possible.
  • Technology Devices- Despite nationwide problems in getting devices, the SDMA has computing devices available for all students in the full-time virtual program. The district is also closing in on having devices for all 6-12 grade students very soon. We received 800 of the new devices last Friday, and we finally received tracking confirmation this week on 1,000 more devices that were ordered last April. We ask that families and students please be patient as we work to provide devices to students as soon as possible. Many contacts have been made, but anyone who might still have a device from summer programming is asked to return it to school on Monday.
  • Transportation- While we appreciate that many families will be providing their own transportation this fall, buses will still be running and transporting many of our students. Parents, please talk to your children about face coverings being required, sanitizing their hands upon boarding the bus, staying in their assigned seat, not consuming any food or drinks on the bus, and controlling their voices. Research is very clear that actions like yelling and singing emit many more particles in the air than sitting silent or talking quietly. Menomonie Transportation has already done a lot of preliminary work to balance the route rosters which will continue to be evaluated throughout the first week of school.

Thank you all for your attention to the communications sent to families since the beginning of the pandemic last spring. I hope that the communications have been helpful, and we will do our best to keep families informed throughout the school year. Please do not hesitate to contact your child's teacher, building principal, or me as questions or concerns might arise during the school year.

Best wishes on a wonderful weekend and a healthy and safe school year.

Joe Zydowsky