Updated: August 13, 2020 06:13 PM
Created: August 13, 2020 05:19 PM
In two weeks, teachers in the northeast metro will be back in school, with students to follow.
"We've gotten a lot of questions from parents like, 'What are you doing to keep children safe?'" said North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale Superintendent Christine Tucci Osorio.
She said every building in their district will have a COVID coordinator, in addition to a school nurse.
"We have set up isolation rooms so that if there is someone showing symptoms, instead of being in the nurse's office and potentially spreading the virus to other students who might be there for a bloody nose or what have you, we are setting up a separate room in every building for that," Tucci Osorio explained.
Each isolation room will have its own portable air purifier, the building air exchanger turned off to those rooms.
"We are not going to take risks with our students or our staff's lives, we're going to be so diligent about that," she said.
According to the state, regional support teams made up of experts from the Minnesota Department of Education, Minnesota Department of Health and local public health staff will work on contact tracing and will notify close contacts.
Close contact is when someone is within 6 feet of the ill person for at least 15 minutes, regardless of whether either person wore a cloth face covering or face shield.
All close contacts of a confirmed case will be asked to stay at home for 14 days.
So, how would a positive case impact a classroom or school?
That decision is made on a case-by-case basis, depending on the length of time the ill person spent in the space, the extent of their activities while there, whether 6 feet of distancing was maintained consistently, and if all close contacts can be identified, according to state experts.
And, if a parent contracts the virus and a student lives consistently with that parent, state health experts said the student would need to stay home for 14 days.
It's a lot of information for students and families, staff and school districts, but Tucci Osorio said they are prepared.
"I would say we're very much ready to go, but there are still some details we're working out right now," she shared.
North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale schools start the week of Aug. 31, one of the earlier starts in the state. Students will start via distance learning, with the plan to move into a hybrid mode within three to four weeks, depending on grade level.
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