Posted on 08/11/2021
Covid Update Image

Dear SDMA Families and Staff,

At Monday night's school board meeting, the Board of Education approved the SDMA COVID-19 Plan. While this plan will be updated and could very well change during the 2021-2022 school year, it provides direction for what to expect when school starts on September 1.

Much of the attention since Monday's meeting has been related to the Board's plan for keeping the use of masks optional for the beginning of the school year. While universal masking is not required in the SDMA (except for the federal requirements on buses and other forms of public transportation), the use of masks in SDMA schools is still very much allowed and encouraged.

Principals, faculty, and staff will be on the lookout for any bullying and disciplinary problems related to mask use, but teachers in the SDMA will not be responsible for disciplining students for not wearing masks. Teachers will be directed to work with families who prefer to have their children wear a mask during the school day (much like how teachers work with parents who want their children to wear glasses in school). Please be sure to communicate with your child's classroom teacher(s) at the beginning of the school year if assistance with student mask use is desired.

There are many other mitigation strategies beyond masking included in the SDMA COVID-19 Plan such as physical distancing (desks set at least 3' a part), increased cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces, a campaign for proper hand washing/physical distancing/respiratory etiquette, increased ventilation, exclusion of symptomatic individuals, universal masking on buses, and voluntary onsite testing for COVID-19.

Contact tracing and the quarantine of close contacts will still occur as required by state law, but all contact tracing will be left up to the Dunn County Health Department. State statute requires schools to cooperate with contact tracing efforts, but SDMA staff will no longer be taking the lead on conducting investigations and identifying close contacts. 

Despite this change, state law is very clear that the local health officer may require isolation or quarantine when needed. Therefore, attending school or any school activity is strictly prohibited for (1.) anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, (2.) anyone who has members of their household awaiting the results of a test*; and (3.) anyone who has been in close contact with someone with COVID-19*. (*Current guidelines advise that individuals are not required to quarantine (or miss school) if they are fully vaccinated and are not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.)

Lastly, this is a final reminder that the SDMA is offering a fully virtual schooling option through the Wisconsin Virtual School (WVS). The application deadline is tomorrow, Thursday, August 12 at 5:00 pm, and the commitment to the virtual program will last until the end of the first semester. The district will assist families that might try to register after the deadline, but enrollment requests received after the virtual school deadline cannot be guaranteed. More information about the virtual school option is available on the school district website.

Thank you to everyone who provided input and feedback on the creation of the SDMA COVID-19 Plan. Now that the plan is approved, it is time to move forward and get ready for the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

Your truly,

Joe Zydowsky