2021 School Reopening Plan

9/19/2021 PPRP Update to School Families

Our St. Joseph School theme this year is “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart . . . and love your neighbor as yourself.” With this guiding theme, our primary focus continues to be the education of our students, while applying health and safety responses to mitigate the spread of all infectious diseases, including COVID-19. 

To ensure that we are providing the best opportunity to remain committed to the mission of full-time, in-person learning, effective Monday September 20th, we will change from strongly recommending face coverings to REQUIRING that all students, staff, and visitors to the building wear appropriate face coverings to help mitigate the spread of infectious disease in our school community.

8.20.2021 PPRP Message to SJS Families

We are excited to welcome our children back to the classroom and grateful for your trust to educate with excellence at St. Joseph School. Our primary focus continues to be the education of our students, while integrating health and safety responses to mitigate the spread of all infectious diseases, including COVID-19. We look forward to our continued partnership in this school year, and we remain committed to educational success and keeping our learning community safe.

Our main mitigation strategies to to keep students, staff, and families safe AND keep our school open for full-time, in-person are:

  • REQUIRING that all students, staff, and visitors to the building wear appropriate face coverings effective 9/19/2021, changed from strongly encouraging all students and staff to wear a mask (MDH, APA, CDC)
  • Requiring students and staff to stay home when sick
  • Reinforcing good handwashing and respiratory etiquette
  • Cleaning and sanitizing

St. Joseph School will update, change, or modify our mitigation strategies based on positivity rates within the school community or as recommended or required by the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis, as well as federal or state agencies. 

Please see the drop down items below for further details on our Safe Return to Learning Plan for the 2021-2022 school year.

Daily Health Screening Checklist

St. Joseph School Decision Tree

Students and staff will attend weekly school Mass on Thursdays at 8:30 a.m. and sit with their grade level class only.  School masses and liturgical services will follow the Archdiocesan Protocols published by the Office of Worship.  We hope to reinstate our older/younger grade buddy program later this school year.  Parents are welcome to join us at our school Mass.

Families are asked to monitor their children’s health on a daily basis utilizing our St. Joseph School daily health screening checklist.   If a student is not feeling well, families are asked to complete the health screening checklist and report the absence by submitting via google form.  

All students, staff, and visitors are required to conduct a daily health screening before coming to school or work. Students and staff are required to stay home if they are ill, and leave school or work if they become sick during the day. All families are required to report if a child is ill and/or tests positive for a communicable disease (COVID-19, Influenza, etc.) to school@stjosephcommunity.org or via the daily health screening checklist. Staff will report illness to their supervisor.

Students will be asked to use hand sanitizer and/or wash their hands upon arrival at school each day. Proper handwashing techniques will be taught and practiced at all grade levels. Families are asked to reinforce proper handwashing techniques at home. Students should bring a refillable water bottle to school each day to fill at the water bottle filling stations. Teachers will teach and reinforce proper hand washing and respiratory etiquette. 

We will return to our illness protocols pre-pandemic:

  • For fever of 100.4°F or more, wait for 24 hours AFTER temperature has returned to normal WITHOUT fever‐reducing medicine before sending your child back to school.
  • For diarrhea or vomiting, wait for 24 hours AFTER THE LAST EPISODE before sending your child back to school
  • Your child should not be having excessive secretions, continual coughing, or be excessively tired. If your child has these symptoms, please continue to keep them home until symptoms have resolved.
  • If a child becomes ill during the school day, the child will be observed and evaluated by the school nurse. An ill child will be required to wear a mask while they wait to be picked up. 

Students or staff who test positive for a communicable disease will be required to stay home until the person has no fever for at least 24 hours without medication, minimal to no coughing, no excessive secretions, is eating/drinking and well-rested. If antibiotics are prescribed, students or staff should be on medications for a minimum of 24 hours before returning to school. If additional positive cases are confirmed in the household, please call the school nurse for guidance. Return dates will depend on the type of communicable disease.  Please see our St. Joseph School Decision Tree.

St. Joseph School families and staff will be notified via email of a positive case of communicable disease in their child’s classroom.  Students and staff in close contact with a positive case are recommended, but not required to, get tested and/or quarantine for 10 days from exposure date. We recommend that families monitor their children for signs and symptoms after an exposure to a positive case. If your child develops any signs or symptoms, please keep the child home and notify the school nurse.

St. Joseph School will not promote attendance policy incentives that may cause a student to come to school when ill, such as the “Perfect Attendance” award for the 2021-2022 school year.

St. Joseph School, as required by Minnesota Rule 4605.7070 , will report cases of communicable diseases (COVID-19, Influenza, etc.) to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) following procedures provided by MDH.

St. Joseph School works in partnership with two school counselors that are on-site two days per week: Mr. Mike Weir (David Hoy & Associates) and Mrs. Anna Gryska (Phoenix School Counseling).  Also, several SJS staff members attended a Peace of Mind Social/Emotional Health training in August. As a school community, we will emphasize the critical importance of mental health and well being among our students and staff.  Social emotional learning (SEL) activities will be integrated into all students’ daily classroom experiences.

Effective 9/19/2021, all students, staff, and visitors to St. Joseph School are required to wear a face covering. This requirement is based on the CDC transmission level data levels. Face coverings will be required while transmission levels are in the high and substantial levels, and will be recommended when transmission levels are moderate or low.

Student mask breaks happen throughout the day, including during outdoor classes, recess, physical education class, lunch, and snack time.

Minnesota Department of Health strongly recommends face coverings for all people regardless of vaccination status. 

All volunteers will be asked to complete a daily health screening checklist as part of the sign in process and wear a mask while in the school building during school hours. This will help limit exposure.

In the event of an increase of positive COVID-19 cases in our school community, St. Joseph School may require students and staff to wear face coverings at some points throughout the school year (such as after holidays, breaks, or travel).  Also, St. Joseph School will follow all state, federal, or Archdiocesan mandates.

Per federal mandate, face coverings are required on school buses at this time by all people regardless of vaccination status.

Currently, there is no physical distancing requirement. St. Joseph School will return to normal classroom set ups.

Students and staff in close contact with a positive case will not be required to quarantine, unless it is a positive case within the household. Please see our St. Joseph School Decision Tree for guidelines on household positive cases. We recommend families monitor their children for signs and symptoms after an exposure to a positive case. If your child develops any signs or symptoms, please keep the child home and notify the school nurse. 

The responsibility of contact tracing lies with the Minnesota Department of Health. St. Joseph School will assist MDH by providing relevant information when requested. Families are encouraged to reach out to people they determine to be close contacts when there is a positive case in the family.

The Minnesota Department of Health no longer requires school leaders to quarantine individuals, entire classrooms, or groups of students on account of potential exposure to COVID-19. Therefore, students and staff in close contact with a positive case will not be required to quarantine.  

Individuals with a lab-confirmed case of COVID-19-students or staff members-are allowed to return to school when all of the following are true (MDH, 2021):

  • They feel better. Their cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms have substantially improved;
  • It has been at least 10 days since they first felt sick or tested positive;
  • They have had no fever for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing medication. 
  • The school nurse will work with families to determine a child's return to school date.

As stated previously in the spring, the distance learning option will not be offered for the 2021-2022 school year.  If a child is ill or needs to stay home due to a household close contact exposure, teachers will provide a basic outline of assignments for the child within 2 school days. Communication will be sent via email to the child’s family and learning materials can be picked up in the school entrance. Some learning and assignments may need to be completed upon the child’s return to school when no longer ill or in quarantine.  Distance learning will be provided if an entire class is in quarantine or if the entire school needs to shift to distance learning.

Lunch and recess routines will generally return to normal, with 3 classes of students in the cafeteria and recess at a time.  Each grade level class will eat with their classmates. Lunch will be served vs. self-served. Our preschool students will continue to eat lunch in the classroom. The federal lunch program will again provide free lunch for all students for the 2021-2022 school year.

Field trips may occur throughout the school year. Face coverings are required on all public transportation, including school buses. Individual venues may have health guidelines in place that are more restrictive than the current state requirements.

Extra curricular activities, such as athletics and our hand chime choir will occur this school year. Participants will follow established guidelines at host locations for activities.

Volunteers with up-to-date E3 credentials will be welcome in the school building. All volunteers will be asked to complete the daily health screening checklist as part of the sign in process and wear a mask while in the school building during school hours. This will help limit exposure.

St. Joseph School will continue to monitor school and community data to keep families informed of health-related issues during the school year. Our school nurse will publish a weekly update in our school Green Wave newsletter with school and community information as it relates to communicable diseases. We will also continue to work with the Minnesota Department of Health and Dakota County Public Health.

Daily cleaning, with soap and water, will occur throughout the day in classrooms. Our custodial staff will continue to thoroughly clean our classrooms after each school day. Specialized cleaning will continue to occur for outbreaks of illnesses (COVID-19, Influenza, etc.).  We will maximize opportunities for outdoor learning in our Matthew 25 Garden, outdoor classroom, and beautiful SJS campus.

Public health officials recommend vaccinations for eligible individuals. COVID-19 vaccinations are not required in the Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis. If you need assistance in finding or scheduling a vaccination appointment, please contact  Dakota County Public Health or your primary care physician.

If you need assistance in finding or scheduling communicable disease testing, please contact Dakota County Public Health or your primary care physician. Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis will not test students for COVID-19 (or provide any other non-emergency health services to students) without written parental consent.

Kelly Roche, Principal

Randy Haney, Parish Director

Beth Reilly, School Nurse

Sheila Swift, Engagement Coordinator

Allie Pankratz, 3rd Grade Teacher

Sue Sirek, Middle School Teacher

Jess Dirksen, School Advisory Council Member

Joe McCullough, School Advisory Council Member

Neal Westphal, School Advisory Council Member

Aaron Pergolski, School Parent

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