Nativity’s COVID-19 Protocols
Below you will find Nativity’s COVID Preparedness Plan for the upcoming school year as of August 19. Last May, we closed out the school year optimistic about our ability to significantly modify COVID-19 health and safety policies for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year. As we now move into full preparations for the new school year, we recognize that COVID-19 still poses risks for our community. At the same time, the circumstances are very different from last year. You may have read that the State of Minnesota no longer legally mandates specific COVID-19 mitigation strategies for schools. As we maintain vigilance, our school will still need to implement a health and safety plan to mitigate the spread of all infectious diseases, including COVID-19. Our plan is flexible, which means changes could be necessary if the situation warrants it. If there is a mask mandate or other required measures, we will need to update our plan. On the same note, if cases drop, we can open up even more. The health, safety, and welfare of our Nativity family is always our number one priority. The plan we have outlined is how we will operate at the start, but it is just that, how we will operate at the start. As we know, pandemics are unpredictable and so we remain committed to changing our approach if needed. Our plan is based on the guidance provided by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
OVERVIEW OF MITIGATION STRATEGIES
While our situation is different today than one year ago, we continue to be committed to maintaining the health and safety of our school community. We are taking an approach that includes a broad number of steps. Here are some of the mitigation strategies we will implement for the start of our school year:
Nativity of Mary will be in-person learning. A distance learning model will not be offered unless the school is advised by a competent public health authority to temporarily close a classroom or the building. If a student is absent from school, the classroom teacher will facilitate making up missed lessons and classwork expectations upon return.
STAYING HOME WHEN SICK
Last year, families partnered with us and kept their students home when sick. This will continue to be the expectation this year in order to keep our community safe. Parents will be expected to do a health check of their students each morning before sending them to school. Students must stay home if any of the following symptoms are present:
- ● Temperature over 100.4 degrees
- ● Vomiting
- ● Excessive coughing
- ● Chills
- ● Severe headache
- ● Sore throat
- ● Severe muscle pain
- ● Loss of taste or smell
- ● Shortness of breath
Parents should report any illness or absence to the school nurse by calling 952-881-8160.
If you are unsure about whether or not your student should stay home, our nurse, Mrs. Rodier, will be available to advise you. Students can return to school once they are feeling better and their symptoms have substantially improved (including being fever-free for 24 hours with no fever-reducing medication). We highly recommend, but will not require students to be tested for COVID-19 before returning to school.
If you desire for your student to be tested for COVID-19, there are many locations with free COVID tests available. Please visit the MDH Find Testing Locations page for more information about COVID-19 testing near you.
Nativity will start the year by strongly recommending masks for all K-8 students and adults, but not requiring masks. Although the mask debate has become divisive within the broader community, that debate cannot spill over into our school community affecting our students’ abilities to learn. We anticipate that there will be many across the K-8 community who choose to wear masks, and we will fully support that decision. Preschool will continue to operate with masks optional.
We know that there are a variety of positions and opinions on the use of masks, for children in particular, and so our school faculty and staff will be working diligently to eliminate any bullying or stigmatization for wearing or not wearing a mask. We ask that you help us with this goal.
Please also note that teachers and staff will not be required to monitor family requests regarding masks. Our teachers will give general reminders to students that they should honor their parent requests.
If cases climb to a high level within Bloomington and/or we experience multiple cases in a school setting, mask guidance may be adjusted.
MASKS ON BUSES
All people are required by an Order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to wear face coverings while in public transportation hubs and on all public transportation conveyances (airplanes, public buses, etc.), including school buses (both public and private).
- ● Students in Kindergarten – 5th grade will operate in pods by grade with the exception of recess, lunch, and at mass.
- ● During lunch, student seating will be spaced 6 feet apart and facing the same direction.
- ● Desks and tables will not have a minimum distance requirement, but we will encourage
physical distancing during the school day when it does not disrupt the development and
learning of our students.
- ● We will employ social distancing techniques in shared spaces in the building.
LAB-CONFIRMED CASES OF COVID-19
State law requires us to report to the Minnesota Department of Health any cases of COVID-19 that occur among students or staff in our building. If your child has COVID-19, we will require that they not return to school or school-sponsored activities until they are no longer contagious. This means:
- ● They feel better. Their cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms are substantially improved;
- ● It has been at least 10 days since they first felt sick or tested positive for COVID-19;
- ● They have had no fever for at least 24 hours, without using medicine that lowers fevers.
Like other infectious diseases, we will notify impacted families of a lab-confirmed case of COVID-19 in the classroom.
The Minnesota Department of Health no longer requires individuals who have been potentially exposed to COVID-19 to quarantine. In general, our school will not exclude any healthy individual from the learning environment, unless we are specifically counseled to do so in the particular circumstances by public health officials.
- ● Nightly cleaning will continue to occur after each school day.
- ● Specialized cleaning will continue to occur for outbreaks of illnesses.
- ● Proper hygiene will continue to be taught and enforced.
- ● Hand sanitizing stations will be available throughout the building.
- ● Public health officials recommend vaccinations for all eligible, currently those 12 or older.
- ● A COVID-19 vaccine is not required for attendance.
- ● Vaccines are currently available for individuals ages 12+. If you need further information
on how to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination, please visit the MDH Vaccine Finder page.
- ● Visitors to the building will continue to be limited, but volunteers will be allowed.
- ● Volunteers must check-in at the office and be symptom free.
- ● Students in grades K-8 will attend mass weekly on Thursdays.
- ● We will not have “PALS” groups for mass. Individual classrooms will be seated together.
- ● Only students and staff will be allowed to attend mass at this time.
PICKUP AND DROP-OFF
- ● We will return to our normal pickup and drop-off routine in which parents may park and walk their children to the doors of the school.
- ● Parents will not be allowed to enter the building to escort their child(ren) to the classroom.
- ● Students in grades 6-8 and preschool will enter and exit through door #14, students in grades 3-5 through door #13, and grades K-2 through door #12.
We are currently planning for extracurricular activities to resume. Fall sports planning is currently underway. More information about fall sports will be provided at a later date.
We are excited to welcome our children back to the classroom and are grateful for your trust to educate with excellence and help slow the spread of disease. In conjunction with the Minnesota Department of Health and the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, we will be monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic closely and will be promptly communicating any updates to this plan.