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COVID-19 Data & Update
Rochester Public Schools

Superintendent Muñoz shares an update on current COVID-19 trends in Olmsted County, information on stopping the spread, and the timeframe for RPS next steps.

Dear RPS Staff and Families,

I hope this communication finds you healthy and well. On Thursday, the District’s COVID Advisory Team met to discuss current data trends in our County. I want to share a few important updates with you based on those conversations and remind you of our timeframe when we announce our next steps as a District. 

COVID Advisory Team

First, the District’s COVID Advisory Team consists of experts from Olmsted County Public Health (OCPH) and Mayo Clinic and the School Board, District Cabinet, Student Services, and myself. We meet every two weeks to discuss data and communication needs. The purpose of our team is to make data-driven decisions that will protect our students and staff, with the ultimate goal of bringing our entire District back together, in-person, safely. 

Data 

I want to share an update from yesterday’s conversation. Olmsted County’s data continues to trend the wrong way. By this, I mean we see an increased number of positive cases. You can look at all data from Olmsted County here or watch a video from the Director of OCPH, Graham Briggs, here. A quick snapshot of the daily new cases based on a seven-day rolling average (updated 9/30/20) is below.

Covid Numbers Graphic to display the 7-day rolling average number of cases for Olmsted County.

What YOU Can Do To Stop the Spread

While this data is unsettling and concerning, there is some positive information to share. OCPH Director Graham Briggs shared yesterday, “we have seen very few cases in our schools, and we have not seen transmission between students in our buildings.” Lack of transmission between students is due to several factors; contact tracing, our partnership with OCPH, and our parents/guardians following public health guidance. The most important actions each of us can take to further protect our families include:

  • Staying home if you are sick
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water, covering your cough and sneeze, avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Practicing self-care by eating a healthy diet and taking time to rest
  • Frequently cleaning all commonly touched surfaces
  • Avoiding large gatherings
  • Wear a mask or proper face covering

Briggs echoes this message sharing, “The key to keeping children and school staff safe is working together to reduce risk, especially understanding the reasons when students or staff are asked quarantine, or stay at home.” The Center for Disease Control (CDC) defines quarantine as “separating and restricting the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.”

The District is continuing the following practices to help stop the spread:

  • We require students and staff to take the home screener before coming to school. 
  • Requiring the use of face coverings, and practicing social distancing where possible. 
  • If someone develops symptoms while at school, we follow the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) decision tree to determine if a child should go home or remain in school. The decision to send a student home from school when showing symptoms is solely based on keeping our students and staff safe. 
  • The requirement to quarantine is a critical step in stopping the transmission of this virus. The District follows the guidance of public health, based on current CDC recommendations. They are continually reviewing the most current science available. A child who is quarantined would not be allowed to participate in in-person school and activities until the end of their quarantine period. The District will work with these students to provide a distance learning option while they are out of the building. 

Both RPS and OCPH recognize the frustrations of parents and students when they are required to quarantine. We also know some members of our community are feeling ‘COVID fatigue’. We have to stay vigilant if we want to see students back in school and businesses fully open in a safe manner. We must commit to taking care of ourselves and each other in order to stop the spread. 

Educational Delivery Model - Reminder

Lastly, I want to remind you that we will be communicating any changes in our educational delivery model at the MEA break time. However, any changes would not occur until early November. We have not made any decisions at this time, and there are many variables. All families can expect to receive a survey from the District in the next week or so because we would like to hear from you about what is working with your child’s current model and what is not. 

We appreciate your patience and partnership in education. Together, we will get through this stronger!

Sincerely,

Superintendent Michael Muñoz