Community e-Newsletter

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

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

Vaccination Clinics

  • 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.

Sincerely,
Dr. Kazmierczak, Superintendent

Student News

H2O highlights

Students in the Vadnais Heights summertime program are helping to keep the school's rain garden watered after volunteers recently weeded the area and added new plants into the mix. The activity is an enjoyable hands-on science experience for students, mixed in with a bit of teamwork and fun.
 
students hand-watering plants
District students, Water Warriors who work with H2O for Life to bring water to schools in the developing world, were highlighted in a PBS story recently. Matoska International IB World School teacher Ben Butters was also interviewed for the story, as he is heavily involved in the students efforts each year. See the PBS story here.
 
screenshot of video of students in classroom in Uganda
Water was also a highlighted at the Central Middle School spring choir concert recording featuring 6th-8th graders showcasing their singing talents, with a special performance of each grade performing the "Nibi Water Song" in the Ojibwe language. This song is a great reminder of the importance of protecting the water sources on our planet and within our community. See the video here.
Our Bears who spend a lot of their time in the water will be working with a new coach this year. Christine “Tia” Quirk is the new White Bear Lake girls swimming coach, coming to the district from an assistant coaching position at Woodbury High School. She is also joining the district staff as a communications specialist later this month. See the article here.
 
In other "in the water" alumni news, it was recently reported that White Bear Lake Area High School grad and former Swim Team standout Melina Hughes will transfer to and swim for Liberty University this fall. Read the article that includes a highlight of Melina here.
college student posing for photo

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.

family members posing for photo with athlete

Important Meals Information

This Wednesday is the last opportunity for families to pick up free summer meals, available to any child 18 and under who is not receiving meals during on-site programming. Meals are also available to persons with disabilities, over age 18, who participate in school programs for people who are mentally or physically disabled. Families should remember to sign up before 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 17 using the Meal Order Form or by calling 651-407-7524 or emailing nutritionservices@isd624.org so Nutrition Services staff are able to plan and prepare. Meals are first come, first serve. 

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.
 
screenshot of Application for Educational Benefits flyer
Meals are also available to members of the community through Meals on Wheels. The August menu is now available for the service that delivers nutritious meals to homes throughout the community with the help of volunteers. The district's Senior Program facilitates Meals on Wheels, which is available to all persons regardless of age or ability. Find additional information here.

Be a Bear!

We are currently accepting enrollment for the 2021-22 school year. Families can choose from two options: traditional in-person school and the district’s Distance Learning Academy. Find additional information at isd624.org/enroll.
 
Bear mascot holding sign with enrollment information
The district is hiring for a variety of positions, offering both school-day and out-of-school-time hours. Full- and part-time options are available. Check out the Employment page of our district website and find ways you can join us as a Bear!
 
group of employees

A productive summer

Thank you to the students, families and community members who stopped by the district’s booth during the weeks of Marketfest to pick up a pencil and a bear paw tattoo this summer. We had a terrific time re-connecting a large variety of stoppers-by during this fun summertime tradition.
 
collage of students, community members and staff members at outdoor event
The White Bear Lake Area High School Trap and Skeet Team recently finished in top half at the USA Clay Target Trip Shooting National Championships held in Mason, Michigan in July. The team placed 79th among 158 squads and was coached by Keith Steadland. Adler Siebenaler led the team, placing 57th in the meet amongst 1,684 entrants.
 
high school students with trap shooting equipment
 
Construction crews recently completed the Transportation Department’s new home, a 12,900-square foot facility will house transportation staff and the district's fleet. Vehicles will be maintained and managed at the new facility as well. The project, which allows for expansion of the unified high school campus onto the old Transportation site, was made possible by the community's support of the 2019 Bond Referendum.
 
district van and bus in front of Transportation Facility
The new elementary building project in Hugo has begun taking shape this summer as well, with plans for the building to open in the Fall of 2022. A committee is being formed to identify and recommend a name for the new elementary school.  The committee's first meeting will be Sept. 16th from 6:30-8 p.m. The public will have an opportunity to recommend names and eventually the committee will recommend a final name for the Superintendent to recommend to the School Board. All are welcome to apply. Click this link to learn more and apply to serve on the committee.
 
screenshot of construction sign for elementary school
Other facilities projects that were worked on through the spring and summer include those at Lincoln, Matoska International, Willow Lane and Vadnais Heights Elementary Schools.  Additionally, work was done on Phase One of the WBLAHS - South Campus project, which includes an additional gymnasium and restrooms that will be open during home football games at the WBLAHS Stadium. Read about the projects here. Find additional information about the district-wide facilities process on the district's Building Our Future page of the website.

Opportunities to connect

 
Community members are invited to mark their calendars for informal chats with Superintendent Wayne Kazmierczak over a cup of coffee or tea at the Downtown WBL Caribou Coffee location. 2021-22 Coffee with Dr. K events will take place: 7:30-8:30 a.m. on Nov. 16, 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 10 and 4-5 p.m. on May 10.
 
Coffee with Dr. K over a white bear image
 
 
More than 300 Senior community members (those age 65+) who live in the District participate in the Senior Activities Pass program and enjoy complimentary admission to school activities. Please apply at isd624.org/SeniorActivitiesPass and your pass will be mailed to you. If you have questions, please contact Rachael Markuson at 651-407-7563 or rachael.markuson@isd624.org.
 
Free Senior Activity Pass

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

Activities Update

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. 

School Board News

Upcoming School Board Meetings

School Board Regular Meeting Subscribe to Alerts
Community Room 112, District Center
School Board Regular Meeting Subscribe to Alerts
Community Room 112, District Center
School Board Regular Meeting Subscribe to Alerts
Community Room 112, District Center
School Board Regular Meeting Subscribe to Alerts
Community Room 112, District Center
School Board Regular Meeting Subscribe to Alerts
Community Room 112, District Center
School Board Regular Meeting Subscribe to Alerts
Community Room 112, District Center
School Board Regular Meeting Subscribe to Alerts
Community Room 112, District Center
School Board Regular Meeting Subscribe to Alerts
Community Room 112, District Center
School Board Regular Meeting Subscribe to Alerts
Community Room 112, District Center
School Board Regular Meeting Subscribe to Alerts
Community Room 112, District Center
School Board Regular Meeting Subscribe to Alerts
Community Room 112, District Center

Past Meeting Highlights

August 9 Regular Meeting

July 12 Regular Meeting

District News

General Information