DELANO, MN – Two Delano students have tested positive for COVID-19. Delano Public Schools Communication Coordinator Paul Downer sent the following message to district parents regarding the exposure:
Today we received notification that two Delano students have tested positive for COVID-19. One case involved an intermediate school student, and the other case involved a high school student. In cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Health, intermediate students and staff members who were identified as close contacts have been notified and will be quarantined for two weeks in order to limit any potential spread. The high school case did not involve significant exposure to others, and no quarantine of additional students or staff is needed.
At this point there is no evidence of COVID-19 transmission in our school settings. We would like to thank you all for your vigilance in reporting symptoms that have arisen at home and for making arrangements to keep your students home when they are not feeling well. When students are kept home, or when quarantines become necessary, they can continue their education through distance learning as long as they are feeling well enough to do so.
Depending on circumstances, MDH is now recommending the quarantine of small groups or whole classrooms at a time in order to reduce the risk of transmission within school, and to maintain a stable learning model for the majority of students. Future notification of positive cases and quarantines will be made directly to impacted families only, rather than to all district families. This will prevent an overabundance of emails from the district, and will help protect the privacy of those affected. Summary information on the district’s situation will be included in our future Thursday emails that provide updates to the Wright County case numbers.
As always, the safety of our students and staff members is our top priority. We will continue to do our utmost to maintain a clean and safe learning environment and, along with our public health advisors, take prompt action when needed to manage the virus.
Scenarios to prepare for
In addition to the possible quarantine of small groups or classrooms in the future, we would like to remind you of some other scenarios that could lead to a learning model change so you can make specific preparations. Now that school has begun, there are several possibilities that could cause a school or the district overall to shift to a more restrictive learning model.
First would be an increase in general community spread, as tracked through county numbers and other local data that we are sharing with you on a weekly basis. A second possibility would be a cluster outbreak in the community or in the school setting – meaning a large number of cases related to a specific location or event.
In addition, there is another scenario that the school district is monitoring very carefully. This possibility is that a percentage of our staff would be required to quarantine for 14 days based on exposure, whether in school or in the community. Currently, substitutes for our teachers and paraprofessionals who work directly with our students are in short supply. If a school is unable to maintain appropriate staffing on a temporary basis through substitutes, it may have to temporarily shift its learning model. The district has and will continue to work on solutions to minimize this possibility. Two permanent substitute teachers have been hired to cover the high school, and two additional permanent substitute teachers are available to cover both the elementary and intermediate schools. These substitute teachers are in our schools every school day for the entire school year as the first coverage for staff who are required to be at home.
As a reminder, any decision to change the learning model school-wide would be facilitated through a consultation process with a regional COVID team that includes representatives from the Minnesota Department of Health, the Minnesota Department of Education, and other public health officials.
Please plan and prepare for these potential interruptions to the school year like you would have for weather emergencies in years past. We are hoping disruptions are minimal, but must be prepared to continue the education of our students in whatever form is necessary during this unusual time.