Fall 2021 mitigation strategies to keep our students in school
We are excited for the coming school year and for the opportunity to return to in-person school, for five days a week. I recognize that the last two school years have included challenges none of us could have anticipated, but I am so proud of the way our students, families, staff and community members have weathered the unknowns.
Still, we are in the midst of a pandemic and we are once again seeing COVID-19 rates rise. Additionally, the vaccine is not currently available to our youngest learners and the Delta variant is more contagious than previous strains.
As we plan for the upcoming school year, our efforts will focus on keeping our students safe and in our buildings for in-person learning. In order to do so, White Bear Lake Area Schools will follow a Mitigation Plan that uses two indicators of county-level transmission levels (7-day case rate per 100,000 and 7-day positivity rate in Ramsey/Washington Counties as found in the CDC Data Tracker) to determine mitigation strategies that will be implemented in our buildings and on district transportation. The plan aligns with Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.
Currently, the transmission rate for Ramsey County is High and the rate for Washington County is Substantial. If the county-level transmission rate remains in either Substantial or High Transmission categories through the start of school in early-September, it is anticipated that following strategies will be implemented as we begin school:
Face coverings are our best mitigation strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our buildings and keep our students in school for in-person learning because they significantly reduce the need for quarantine in the case of exposure.
- Face coverings required for all age 2+, regardless of vaccination status, while in district buildings
- Face coverings required for all age 2+, regardless of vaccination status, on student transportation, per federal requirement
- Face coverings will not be required outdoors
District mitigation efforts
The district will continue various mitigation efforts: Sharing information about the vaccine, staying home when ill, hand hygiene, ventilation, cleaning, contact tracing and notification will be implemented in all transmission levels. In yellow/orange/red transmission levels, physical distancing will be implemented to the extent possible.
Testing for Covid-19 (Post Exposure)
For those who are vaccinated:
- Recommended 3-5 days after an exposure
- Required for symptoms
- Antigen or PCR
For those who are unvaccinated
- Required for symptoms (PCR)
- Strongly recommended 5-7 days after exposure
- Routine testing recommended
Quarantine (Post Exposure)
- For those who are vaccinated, no quarantine is required if asymptomatic
- For those who are unvaccinated and unmasked, quarantine required
- For those who are unvaccinated and all parties masked, no quarantine required if asymptomatic
Note: MDH may provide specific quarantine recommendations
Tested Positive: Isolate and notify School Health Office
Everyone: stay home 10 days from symptom onset
- Find COVID-19 vaccine appointments using the Vaccine Finder at https://www.vaccines.gov/. Appointments can be searched by vaccine type (e.g., Pfizer).
- The district will continue to work with Ramsey County to facilitate vaccination events for community members
The information listed above applies to those families who have chosen traditional school for 2021-22. Families also have the option of enrolling their child(ren) in the district’s Distance Learning Academy, which will serve students in grades K-12 starting in September. Information about this online opportunity can be found here.
Current information about our mitigation strategies and other important Back to School notices can be found on the district’s webpage, directly at www.isd624.org/BackToSchool.
Thank you for your partnership and support as we work together to keep our students in our buildings for in-person learning this school year.
Dr. Kazmierczak, Superintendent
One more water-related alumni highlight is that of White Bear Mariner grad Mike Ferlic, who had a special connection to the Tokyo Olympics. His son was a member of Team USA in the Steeplechase, a foot race track and field event that consists of obstacles including wooden barriers and pools of water. Read more in this White Bear Press article.
Important Meals Information
Thanks to the US Department of Agriculture, Nutrition Services is able to extend free meals to all students through the 2021-22 school year. No application is required to receive this meal benefit. However, families may qualify for additional benefits, if they complete an Application for Educational Benefits online or in paper form. Applications can be found on the district website, and information will be mailed to families before the school year begins. Find a flyer that describes the many benefits to completing the Application for Educational Benefits here.
Be a Bear!
A productive summer
Opportunities to connect
Other connections are being made by mail. The district recently send an end-of-the-year Bear's Update to all district residents. The postcard includes celebrations of the 2020-21 school year, opportunities to connect and important district information. Find an electronic version of the piece here.
WBLAHS Band members have recently performed at Marketfest. Members of the WBLAHS Track and Field Boys' and Girls' Teams were recently recognized by the School Board for participation in the State Track Meet. See the video here. Two Boys' Track team members earned medals at the State Meet. See the article here. The White Bear Lake Area High School Trap and Skeet Team recently finished in top half at a national meet. See the article here. Tia Quirk was recently named the new WBLAHS Girls' Swim and Dive Team coach. See the article here. WBLAHS grad Christine Thomas has been named the new Girls' Cross Country coach, a position that opened when longtime coach Patti Percival retired after the 2020 season. See the article here.
Please contact the Communications Department (651-407-7695) to submit Student News for inclusion in future publications.