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A Message from the District Lead Nurse

Crystal Diehl, RN, LSN, PHN, MSN
District Lead Nurse

Positive Cases 

We have made it through the first month of school! As we continue on with the school year, we have started to have cases that have impacted our school. With each of these cases, we have learned more about the process of contact tracing and quarantine. We work closely with St. Louis County Public Health and the Minnesota Department of Health to guide our follow up response. 

As always, keep in mind that guidelines and practices are changing quickly as we learn more. Please review this link for more information regarding positive cases in schools.

Here is more information about our process: 

● When we learn of a student that has tested positive for COVID-19, we investigate to see what date that student was considered infectious. If they are symptomatic, the infectious period begins 48 hours prior to symptom onset. If they are asymptomatic, the infectious period is considered to be 48 hours prior to their test date. 

● If the child was in school during the infectious period, we begin the process of contact tracing. We look at seating charts for the classroom, ask the teacher what went on in class that day to determine if there were any other children that might have been within 6 feet of distance for 15 minutes or longer (“close contact”). We talk to any specialists, Key Zone and Tier 1 child care if they attend, bus driver and any other area of school that child utilized. Any other students or staff that are identified as being a close contact are quarantined for 14 days from the exposure date. 

● For children in Pre-K, Kindergarten or 1st grade classrooms, MDH will likely advise that all children and staff present in the classroom on the date of exposure should quarantine. This is because of the difficulty with ensuring that children of this age are truly keeping the 6 foot distance for an entire day. 

● If your child is identified as a close contact of the case, you will receive a phone call and email with instructions to notify you of the need to quarantine your child. A “non-close contact” notification will go out to the school as well so that you are aware of the case and know to watch for symptoms, but do not need to have your child quarantine.

Bus Information 

A new recommendation from MDH is that any students or staff that ride the bus for a total of 30 minutes or longer (cumulative time- including morning and afternoon together) need to quarantine if an infectious person is found to have been riding with them for that length of time (see transportation section of the link referenced above). This recommendation was based on a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which can be found here. 

Planning Ahead for Potential Closure 

I wanted you to be aware that there are some different scenarios that might lead to changes in our school schedule as a result of the number of cases in our community and/or in our school. If any of these situations arise, our regional team (MDH, MDE, Local Public Health and our school district) would consult and make recommendations for changes to implement to help control the spread of COVID-19: 

● If the reported bi-weekly case rates increase, our learning model may change. Check the St. Louis County Bi-Weekly Case Rate for Schools.

If the bi-weekly case rate for the Duluth-Proctor-Hermantown area reaches 30 or higher for 3 weeks in a row, our learning model may change. Check the St. Louis County Bi-Weekly Case Rate for Schools.

● If we have 5 or more families with a positive case that were present in a school building during their infectious period within 1 week, that building may close for 2 weeks and the students shift to distance learning for that time period. 

● If our total number of students out with symptoms of or testing positive for COVID-19 reaches 5-10% of that school’s population, the building may close for 2 weeks and the students would shift to distance learning for that 2 weeks. 

More detailed guidance may be found here.

New Resources from MDH 

School data will be added to the MDH Weekly COVID-19 Report as well as a listing of schools with 5 or more cases that attended school while infectious within a 2 week timeframe.

Seasonal Influenza shots are recommended.

If someone in your family is waiting for test results, the rest of the family should stay home until those results are back. 

Guidance on what to do if you have been identified as a close contact of a positive case.

● Minnesota Department of Health COVID Decision Tree for People in Schools, Youth, and Child Care Programs

You have been doing a fantastic job of screening your children for symptoms every morning and keeping them home when symptoms arise. This is so important and one of the best ways to help keep our schools open. We appreciate your efforts and support as we work together to keep our school community as safe as possible.