SDMA Weekly COVID Update - 9/16/2020

SDMA Weekly COVID Update - 9/16/2020
Posted on 09/16/2020

Hello SDMA Families and Staff.

With a recent increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Dunn County, there is a lot of important information in this week's message.  Please take the time to review this entire communication.........

There have not been any large outbreaks in our schools, but today we experienced our first positive case at Menomonie High School (please see the attached notice). School staff have been working with the health department to conduct contact tracing, and the district has implemented rigorous COVID-19 isolation and cleaning protocols. The masking, distancing, cohorting, and sanitizing efforts in our school district should prove very effective in limiting the spread of the virus, and any students or other individuals identified as a potential close contact will receive notification of the steps necessary for quarantine and testing. This situation is a great reminder for everyone how critically important it is to regularly monitor symptoms and stay home throughout any exclusionary period or until a negative test result is received. 

Parents, please review the COVID-19 guidance from the Department of Public Instruction and pay particular attention to the information on Page 2 about symptoms and when a child needs to stay home. Students with COVID-19; who are awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test; who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms; or who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are not allowed to attend school or school district events.

The data listed on the Dunn County Dashboard was updated today, and you can see that there are now 265 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Dunn County (up from 208 last week) and 7,484 negative test results (up from 7,057 last week). There were 86 newly confirmed cases in the past two weeks (up from 49 last week) which results in a HIGH burden of 192 new cases per 100,000 people in Dunn County (up from 109 last week). With the increase in the local COVID-19 burden, the statistical trend for the past two weeks in Dunn County is now INCREASING. More information about COVID measurements and levels are on the Department of Health Services website.

Since the BURDEN level in Dunn County is now HIGH and the TREND level is now INCREASING, some changes are needed in the SDMA before next week. A vast majority of the new positive cases in Dunn County are at the college-age level, but our local health department has limited capacity to contact trace and do what is necessary to limit the spread in our entire community. We are being asked to make changes so that our public health services can remain effective in their ability to protect the community. Therefore, the SDMA has been advised that in order to stay open at full capacity, we are required to achieve six feet of spacing in all classrooms in the school district, where the potential for close contacts sustained over a longer period of time is the greatest.

All classrooms in grades K-8 are already set up to achieve six feet of distancing, but approximately 1/3 of the classes at MHS are not. The principals and staff at MHS will be doing everything they can with classroom setups and the creative scheduling of alternative spaces to make this happen before Monday. After visiting MHS yesterday and talking with the principals and a number of staff members, I am confident that we can get this done in order to keep our kids in school. If the number of new daily cases in the county continues to accelerate, or if we begin to have problems with large outbreaks in our schools, the district may have to consider moving to a blended or virtual learning environment as noted on the 2020-2021 SDMA Instructional Models graphic

Building principals are reporting the continued good use of cloth face coverings by students, and some reteaching of distancing expectations is occurring this week. With the governor's order for face coverings set to expire on September 28, the district is closely monitoring this situation at the state level. Even if the governor's order is not extended, the SDMA will continue with the current face covering expectations for the remainder of the semester unless changes are approved by the school board at a publicly posted meeting. 

On a more positive note, the school district has been able to work with the health department and university to amend the previously reported plan for spectators at school events. The SDMA will now be able to allow for a limited number of parents to attend events in accordance with the current county guidelines for gatherings (25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors). All seats for games held at Williams Stadium will be assigned by the coaches and athletic department prior to the event, and it is anticipated that the parents of senior athletes will be given first preference. Please note......for the health and safety of everyone involved, and to be in compliance with campus guidelines at UW Stout, any loitering outside of Williams Stadium, or on the public and private grounds adjacent to the stadium, will result in UW Stout immediately revoking permission for the SDMA to use the stadium this fall. Fans will be required to physically distance and wear cloth face coverings, and above all else, people with COVID-19, awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test, or who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms are prohibited from attending. Everyone is encouraged to utilize the district's new streaming services for watching events whenever possible.

Like schools and other organizations in the region, the SDMA is prepared to work closely with the health department whenever cases might arise in our schools. We have very good protocols and mitigation measures to stop the spread in our school district, but what happens outside of school is also very important. Please continue to encourage your children and members of your household to Wash Up, Back Up, and Mask Up.

Thank you.

Joe Zydowsky