Image credit: Minnesota Department of Health
Health & Safety
Last updated: Aug 7
Note: New content in bold
Staying apart so we can stay together.
It is critical for all members of the Minnehaha Community to be vigilant to screen every morning before school and during the school day for symptoms of COVID-19 in order to keep our community healthy. If this isn’t done, no matter how careful we are in school, our plans for a healthy learning environment won’t succeed.
Please follow our decision tree when determining whether or not to come to school.
We're Following 10 Safety Guidelines
We are committed to a safe and healthy environment for learning and will be following these ten guidelines for safety.
- Student and staff self-screening
- Reduced class sizes
- Social distancing
- Increased hand washing protocol and sanitizing stations
- Face coverings
- Bi-polar ionization air filtration to remove viruses and other pathogens as used in hospitals and the airline industry
- Separate space for students who exhibit covid-like symptoms
- Increased cleaning and sanitation procedures
- Limited visitors on campus
- Safe entry and exit
Best Practices We're Taking
All students must be screened by a parent before coming to school. Parents must daily certify via ParentSquare that their child is well. Faculty and staff will also be required to self-screen before coming to work. If a symptom cannot be attributed to any other health condition, stay home, contact your healthcare provider and your school nurse.
When parents complete their screening on ParentSquare for the individual student(s), parents will complete a series of questions regarding student symptoms. If a student has one symptom that they are experiencing in the list of questions, the app will let the parent know that they need to stay home and follow up with a physician and school nurse if needed.
Go to ParentSquare online. Once you have logged in, there will be an orange bar that appears on the home screen that says “Submit Daily Health Screening”. Click that box to begin.
Each day, the screening form on ParentSquare must be completed and submitted (“Successfully submitted screening”) prior to entry to school building or getting on morning transportation.
- While completing or submitting the screening form on ParentSquare, if the STOP screen appears, do not put your child on morning transportation or enter the school building. Please follow the instructions on the screen for further details.
- If you run into issues getting logged onto ParentSquare or submitting the screening form, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
If a student is staying home due to ParentSquare screening instructions:
- call attendance line for your student’s school. Provide symptom(s) student is experiencing.
Compliance to the daily screening is critical to ensure the health and safety of all. “Spot checks” will also be done routinely in school, including after lunch in preschool, and before attending extended day for Lower and Middle School students.
If a symptom cannot be attributed to any other health condition, stay home, contact your healthcare provider and your school nurse. View the decision tree for more information.
Class sizes will be dramatically reduced — in most cases more than halved. In-person learning will take place primarily as small cohorts of students learning together. A separate space will be provided for students who exhibit COVID-like symptoms. Visitors to campus will be limited and parents will not be allowed into the school without prior authorization. Arrival and departure times will be staggered, students will enter and exit through different doors, and must head directly to class after arriving to school.
Rules and expectations around social distancing will be covered at Orientation for all students. Students will sign an age-appropriate statement indicating they have received the training and understand the expectations. Students will be reminded often of the expectations in the classroom, hallway and other common spaces.
Bi-polar ionization air filtration will be provided to remove viruses and other pathogens from the air, just like in hospitals and the airline industry. Increased cleaning and sanitation procedures, including a special disinfectant, will be used for high-touch surfaces and an atomizing spray gun will be used to apply cleaner on larger surfaces. All classrooms will be equipped with cleaning products and sanitization stations will be placed throughout the school. Students and staff will receive regular reminders about about proper mask use, hand washing, and social distancing.
Training and Wellness Reminders for Students and Staff
Students will receive regular reminders about proper mask use, hand washing, and social distancing. Faculty and staff will receive extensive training through ongoing learning modules and in-person education.
Social health will be addressed through intentional regular connection with and between students. Emotional health will be addressed through supporting the whole child with targeted support services and intentional outreach. Spiritual health will be addressed through emphasizing the integration of faith and learning, participation in corporate worship, and a focus on our core values.
Per the MN mandate, face masks are required at school in grades K–12. Preschool students must wear a face covering in the hallways. Students will wear face coverings during instruction but will not wear face coverings while doing physical activity during PE class. Students will not wear face coverings for recess or while they are eating lunch.
Students who have tested positive for COVID prior to August 27 and fully recovered will still need to wear masks and follow the social distance rules like other students. Even if students have spent time with peers this summer without masks, they are required in school.
Preschool students are not required to wear face coverings in the classroom. They will be required to wear masks when arriving at school, when traveling in the hallways, and at pick-up time. Preschool faculty and staff will follow the same protocols as other faculty – shields during instruction, masks during times of close contact.
- Face Coverings are required on school transportation and in the school building except while eating and participating in a physical activity.
- Types of face coverings can include a paper or disposable mask, a cloth mask, a neck gaiter, a scarf, or a bandanna.
- Students will be provided with two Minnehaha cloth masks.
- Gaiters are a less effective but acceptable alternative to cloth masks. Minnehaha gaiters will be available for purchase in the front office.
- If a K-5 child is not able to wear a face covering for extended periods of time, a face shield is also an acceptable alternative while in the classroom. A mask or other face covering will still be required when traveling in the hallway or in common spaces outside of the classroom. If using one in the classroom, a face shield must cover the face from the forehead to below the chin and just in front of the ears.
- In keeping with our school dress code, face coverings must not be distracting or controversial.
- It is recommended that families practice using a face mask at home for longer time periods before school starts to help students comfort level in wearing a mask throughout the school day.
- Students will be trained in proper mask use, including putting it on, taking it off, and mask hygiene. Families will be asked to launder the face masks routinely, often enough to have a clean, laundered face mask each day at school.
The School will follow the guidance of the Minnesota Department of Health in the event that we are notified that a student or employee has tested positive for COVID-19:
- The school nurse will contact the department of health to report the case from our school per “MDH Reportable Illnesses.”
- All families in the building will receive a general notification letter via Parent Square that there was a case of COVID-19 in the school. This letter will state that their likelihood of exposure is similar to community exposure in day to day life outside of school.
- Tracing will be done to determine and notify all students/employees that are determined to be considered a close contact. At this time per MDH guidelines, any individual in “close contact” means anyone within 6 feet of a COVID-19 positive individual for greater than 15 minutes (with or without the presence of a mask).
Contact Tracing Guidance
There is a possibility that the MN Department of Health will be used to assist in contact tracing. In addition, the school nurse will be working with teachers and administrative assistants to determine which faculty/staff/students are considered “close contact” (Close contact = in contact with a COVID-19 positive individual within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes regardless if a mask or face covering has been used).
If there is a COVID-19 Positive student in a cohort, then the whole cohort (along with the classroom teacher) will need to go home for 14 days to quarantine.
Teachers will have seating charts and will share them with the school nurse.
Short Term All-School Distance Learning
Minnehaha Academy will work carefully with the MDH to determine when Minnehaha will need to return to all distance learning. The MDH criteria depends on a number of factors and specific information with regard to positive COVID cases. Minnehaha will track the number of faculty/staff and students that are out for the week with potential COVID-19 symptoms and report that number to MDH at the end of the week and follow MDH recommendations accordingly.
Per the MN Dept of Health current guidelines, a distance learning only model could be considered for short periods of time if:
- confirmed cases are identified but contact tracing and notification of close contacts in the school setting cannot be completed within 24 to 36 hours. This short-term use of distance learning may allow schools to coordinate with local and state health officials to complete contact tracing and develop a clearer picture of the COVID-19 situation impacting the school while supporting continuity in learning.
- Multiple cases are identified within a short time period (e.g., several cases in one week or within a 14-day time period) that occur across multiple classrooms or activities and a clear connection between cases or to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 cannot be easily identified.
Travel Out Of State
We are following the state of MN guidelines for travel. Currently, Minnesota does not require travelers to stay home/away from others (quarantine) for 14 days after returning from another state. However, it is important that you watch for symptoms, get tested if you do have symptoms, and stay home if you become sick. You should also continue to wear a mask, stay 6 feet from people, and wash your hands often.