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Message to Families From Superintendent Hudspith 11-18-20

Dear Waseca Families,

As we have known all school year, the situation with COVID-19 is changing rapidly, and with current information I regret to inform you that Waseca Public Schools will be transitioning to COVID-19 Status Level Red, distance learning for all K-12 students, effective November 30. In partnership with county public health officials, the Minnesota Department of Health, and the Minnesota Department of Education, we have reviewed our current and recent trend data. Recent data indicates that our county’s 14-day case rate per 10,000 exceeds 57 for the date range of 10/25-11/7. This rate has then increased to near 100 for the date range of 10/31-11/14. 

As reported on the district’s COVID-19 dashboard, some cases have occurred in our buildings, and we have seen an increase in the number of students and staff needing to be quarantined. Student and staff health and safety is our highest priority, and given the significant spread occurring in our community, as well as cases and quarantines impacting staff and students in our schools at this time, moving to a distance learning model is the most appropriate plan to mitigate further spread. 

Pending any further information which would require immediate action, we will remain in hybrid learning for all through Monday, November 23. Note that 11/23 is a distance learning day for all in our current hybrid model. There will be no school for students on Tuesday, November 24, and Wednesday, November 25 as teachers and staff will use these days to prepare for distance learning. Distance learning for all students will begin on Monday, November 30. We will review our county data in mid-December in hopes of determining a return date to hybrid learning. 

We know distance learning presents challenges for students, families, and staff, and is extremely multi-faceted. Some additional information includes: 

  • Child care: Beginning Tuesday, November 24, child care will be provided for only Tier 1 workers per Executive Order. If staffing levels allow us to provide more care, we will communicate this with families. More information will be coming from our Community Education office. 

  • Pre-School: Our Community Education office will be communicating with preschool families regarding their programming. 

  • End of trimester: Some courses, particularly at the Junior/Senior High, finish with the trimester. Students may be expected to complete some work or attend a session with a teacher on November 24 or 25. 

  • Activities: Co-curricular activities are an important part of a student’s educational experience. We expect additional guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota State High School League and will provide activities updates as soon as we can. 

  • In person learning: Per Executive Order, we will continue to provide in person learning to some students, such as those with special learning needs and those with classes that require hands-on experiences. Please watch for communication from your school on how your child may be impacted by these options. 

  • Food Service: Meals will be served daily at our curbside sites at no cost to students. Additional details will be provided. 

  • Distance Learning: We know this will be a change for many of our students, and your child’s school will be communicating with you in regard to the specific distance learning experience your child will have. 

More details about these topics will be covered at our Board meeting Thursday, November 19. This has been a very difficult decision, as we know our work impacts not only students, but staff and the community as a whole. Our hope is that this time provides us the opportunity to engage our students in a new way, and to diminish the spread of the virus to a point where we can re-enter safely as soon as possible. Thank you as always for your continued support of our schools and your students, we will get through this together with our fellow Blue Jays.