Dear DCS Community:
I am reaching out to you today to ask for your help in keeping our schools open.
We had previously shared with you information about the state’s strategy to combat COVID-19 through a color-coded system known as the Micro-Cluster Initiative. This is a system of designating certain areas as a Yellow, Orange or Red zone based on the prevalence of COVID-19. These zones come with certain restrictions and protocols designed to limit the spread of the virus, including school-based COVID testing.
At this time, our region has no specific designation. Given recent testing trends, it is possible that we may move into a yellow zone in the coming days. We are proactively preparing for this, including establishing plans for testing students and staff members.
State guidelines require schools who are in one of these zones to test a designated percentage of all students and staff over a given time period. Depending on how the results compare with the overall population, schools could be able to stay open for in-person instruction.
We are asking our students and staff to please help keep our schools open for in-person instruction by consenting to COVID-19 testing using this Google Form. Please complete this form as soon as possible.
This is a preemptive measure that will expedite the testing process if we are included in a zone in the future. By having our families give their consent to testing now, that is one less step we would have to take toward keeping our schools open. Please note that we would not conduct any testing without advance notice, and parents can be present during the test if they wish. Tests will be non-invasive, rapid screening tools. There will be no cost to families for these tests. More information about school response and testing is available in our Q&A.
Some important notes:
- “Remote-only” students will not be tested and their families should not fill out the consent form.
- No individual is required to be tested, but it is our hope to have strong cooperation so that we can keep our schools open for in-person instruction.
- Testing requirements vary by zone and we are continuing to stay tuned for more information about the participation levels needed.
- If we are unable to meet the minimum required number of tests by school, we would likely need to transition the school(s) to all-remote learning for a time period that is undefined at this point.
- Tests will be administered by the school nurse.
- In the event of positive results, we will follow all of our current protocols regarding working with public health partners regarding contact tracing and quarantining.
The guidance on testing requirements and school response continues to evolve. We continue to work closely with our public health partners to arrange for tests and to establish protocols for tracking and reporting results. We appreciate your partnership, cooperation and flexibility throughout this process.
We will continue to communicate with you about anything that changes our COVID-19 school response. As always, I remind you that washing your hands, maintaining social distancing, and wearing a mask are still the best tools we have to protect against COVID-19. Thank you for doing your part to keep our school community safe.
Dr. James Niedermeier