In addition to tracking our own school case rates, close contacts, and quarantines, Orono Schools follows guidelines and case rates from Hennepin County Public Health, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the University of Minnesota School of Public Health dashboard, “Minnesota School Opening Statistics.”
These data points are updated weekly, on Fridays, and posted publicly on the Orono COVID-19 Dashboard. The dashboard includes terms and definitions as well as COVID-19 case rate trends over time.
Yes. District administrators and health staff review information released through neighboring districts’ COVID-19 dashboards, website, etc. In addition, district superintendents and health staff communicate routinely on a variety of topics, including COVID-19 mitigation strategies in their districts.
No. The district does not receive any funding that is tied to mask-wearing decisions. Orono Schools does receive federal funds for a variety of programs, but there is no connection between these funds and masking decisions.
Please see the next FAQ, “How has the district spent COVID-19 funding?”
Over the last 19 months (extending across the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years), Orono Schools has received approximately $1.2 million to support students academically, provide supplies for health and safety, and support a variety of learning models. In Orono Schools, the funds have been strategically allocated to cover: additional classroom teachers and paraeducators who supported the hybrid and distance learning models and who currently provide hybrid support and continuity of learning for students in quarantine; additional substitute teachers to cover increased staff absences; health staff who provide student support and COVID-19 contact tracing; supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff and students (gloves, masks, shields, gowns); plexiglass/signage; individual desks for students in grades K-5 (to support social distancing measures); technology hardware, software, and infrastructure needed to support all learning models; enrollment relief; as well as expansion of 2021 summer programming, credit recovery, and support for K-12 students. Orono Schools has not spent COVID-19 resources on Social-Emotional Learning curriculum.
To provide continuity of learning for students in the hybrid learning model or during prolonged absence due to quarantine, families and students will work with their classroom teacher(s) to ensure students have access to the support and materials they need to be successful. The district has used federal funds to hire two, full-time Floating Hybrid Teachers (one elementary, K-5; one secondary, 6-12) to support students and families. The district is not offering a live-streamed learning model for 2021-22.
The Orono Schools COVID-19 Response Team will continue to meet and discuss adjustments to the Safe Return to School Plan. To guide decision-making, the Team will monitor several data points shared publicly on the Orono Schools COVID-19 Dashboard, including:
The district includes community transmission level/spread in its decision-making. Transmission rates are currently very high.
Students are quarantined for COVID-19: (a) when unvaccinated and someone in their household tests positive, (b) when unvaccinated and determined to be a close contact of a positive case if either student is unmasked. These have been our procedures since school started this fall. Your child’s school nurse or health clerk will discuss quarantines if your child is identified as a close contact. Please contact Janet.Franzen@orono.k12.mn.us if you have additional questions.
The district has two trained psychologists on the COVID Response Team. Knowing that the school year would once again begin with uncertainty and challenges related to COVID-19, the district psychologists, social workers and counselors participated in a two-day retreat in summer 2021 to review and build systems of support for mental health. Please see the September 13, 2021, School Board presentation (1:01 timestamp under New Business) discussing the district’s multi-tiered systems of support.
If you have concerns about your child’s mental health, please contact
Jessica Butcher, School Psychologist
952-449-8338 ext. 8307
Dr. Julie Nelson, School Psychologist
Ericka Ronnings, School Psychologist
952-449-8338 ext. 8458
Julie Jurek, Social Worker
Jane Leeper, Social Worker
The team discussed expanding visitor access in school buildings. However, given high—and increasing—community transmission, we will continue to limit building access to essential volunteers and visitors only. It is important to note that parents may have access to their children at any time.