Major changes at B-B-E schools (March 13 story)

COVID-19 response includes wholesale changes to local school districts


March 12, 2020

Update on March 15: this information was posted on Friday, March 13. Much of it is already outdated. The Voice is leaving this posted for the sake of full disclosure. However, we ask that everyone stay up to date on the most current information available. Click on the following (short) link for the latest information, based on Governor Walz's 10 a.m. press conference on March 15: Below is the story posted on March 13.

Click on this (short) link to the March 15 update from B-B-E schools...posted at the Bonanza Valley Voice website on Sunday evening:

A massive amount of information was released to the public by Stearns County school superintendents at the end of the business day on Friday, March 13, 2020.

One wholesale change as a response to the COVID-19 outbreak is a prohibition to guests and volunteers to Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa schools starting with the beginning of the day of Monday, March 16. The e-mail sent out to parents included the following message, "Our administrative and board teams have been meeting this afternoon to give families the best information at this difficult time. Please know that this situation is evolving every hour. We may need to revise things as we get more information. We will be in contact as anything changes."

Discussion of the COVID-19 has included a potential for a temporary school closure. B-B-E schools is actively monitoring the situation with the help of the Department of Education and the Department of Health (MDH). Community health and safety is of paramount importance to the school district. In order to make the best decisions regarding school, student and community safety, we need all families to help. According to the MDH and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the best COVID-19 prevention activities are the same activities we teach children when discussing influenza and the common cold. They include these four major guidelines to follow:

1. use quality hand-washing practices (20 seconds or more with soap);

2. cover your cough or sneeze;

3. stay home if you do not feel well;

4. avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;

COVID-19 symptoms: coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is characterized by mild symptoms including a runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever. Illness can be more severe for some people and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties. More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people, and people with other medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), may be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill. People may experience the following symptoms: • runny nose; • sore throat; • cough; • a mild to severe fever; • difficulty breathing (severe cases).

If you, a family member, or someone you have been in contact with is diagnosed with COVID-19, please notify us at school immediately. B-B-E schools will consult directly with the MDH in the event of local exposure to COVID-19.

Note: Minnesota had 14 cases of COVID-19 as of Friday, up from nine a day earlier. Two of those patients are hospitalized. All cases of the virus were contracted outside of Minnesota.

Joint Stearns County superintendents' message

In response to the recent report by Stearns County Public Health of a confirmed case of COVID-19 in Stearns County, superintendents of schools in the county have agreed upon shared school operation protocols. As a result, CDC mitigation strategies for communities near COVID-19 transmission are being implemented as of March 16 and going forward until further notice.

The following protocols, which are subject to change on a daily basis, will begin on March 16 (these are specific to B-B-E schools):

1. For the safety of students, staff and the community, only district personnel (those on payroll and contracted partners) are permitted inside district school buildings. Visitors and volunteers will not be admitted to schools at this time.

2. Beginning- and end-of-day routines allowing families into the school to drop off or pick up students will remain the same, but other family visits during the school day will be limited to scheduled school-related business.

3. Public health officials have advised limiting large gatherings of people. In response, all school-sponsored public and family events and activities will be cancelled until further notice. Junior high and high school practices for activities and athletics, however, are considered an extension of the school day and will continue as scheduled.

4. All field trips and school-sponsored travel will be suspended.

5. Jaguar Kids Connection and preschool classes will remain open before, during and after school.

6. Jaguar Steps to Success (JSS) activities will remain open.

7. Early Childhood and Family Education (ECFE) classes are cancelled.

8. Community education classes will be cancelled including youth and adult recreation and enrichment courses (fees will be refunded when applicable).

9. Use of district facilities by external organizations and community groups will be suspended.

10. Students who have been exposes to a diagnosed case of COVID-19 must communicate with school administration before returning to school.

11. Students who have symptoms consisted with COVID-19, or who are diagnoses with COVID-19, or who have a household member who is diagnosed with COVID-19, should not attend school and must notify the school office of the student's condition.

12. Parents must notify the school office if their child or children is / are not in attendance as a precautionary action related to COVID-19.

13. Staff members who have been exposed to a diagnosed case of COVID-19 must notify the superintendent prior to returning to work.

14. Staff members who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, or who are diagnosed with COVID-19, or who have a household member who is diagnosed with COVID-19, should be in communication with the superintendent to evaluate work status.

15. In the event a parent chooses to self-quarantine their student, B-B-E schools will treat the absence in the same way another absence will be handled. Teachers should communicate with parents and ensure e-mail information is correct. Assignments will be sent to parents via e-mail and will be completed in the same timeframe as regular makeup work.

Health organizations are asking schools to plan for the worst and hope for the best. We are encouraging parents to do the same. Currently, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa school district.

It is entirely possible that Governor Tim Walz, state health organizations or MDE will direct schools to temporarily close. Families are encouraged to begin planning in the event this could happen.

B-B-E school officials participate in statewide conference calls as scheduled with MDH and Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) representatives. Both departments are coordinating their messaging and work to manage the virus outbreak in Minnesota. B-B-E will continue to participate in and implement all recommendations from MDE, MDH and the CDC.

Additionally, B-B-E officials are reviewing our crisis response plan in preparation for any directions from the appropriate state or federal agencies in regards to COVID-19. We have secured the appropriate cleaning agents to conduct a "super cleaning" of both school buildings should circumstances necessitate this action.

In news relating to spring sports activities through at least April 6, 2020, any type of activity beyond practices and tryouts is prohibited. This means no games, scrimmages or other types of practices and activities between other schools.


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