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COVID-19 Health and Safety
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COVID-19 Health and Safety: 2021-22

COVID-19 Health and Safety: 2021-22

ESPANOL | HMOOB | SOOMAALI

Updated May 10, 2022

MPS continues to monitor COVID-19 and follow the CDC COVID-19 County Community levels and prevention steps. Hennepin County is currently at “medium” and the CDC recommends the following to help prevent the spread of COVID:

Masks are available at school if your student needs one. If the community level reaches “high” MPS may be required to take additional precautions based on the recommendations of the CDC.

Families and staff can refer to the COVID-19 dashboard for the latest information about COVID-19 cases in your school and at the district level. And please remember, keep students home when they are ill

Table of Contents

Health and Safety

The health and safety of MPS students, their families, and staff is of utmost importance. The guidance outlined below follows recommendations from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH): Best Practices for COVID-19 Prevention in Schools for the 2021-22 school year, which is aligned with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Virtual Learning Opportunities

MPS is not currently offering a distance learning option. Families do have the option to attend MPS Online School, but enrolled students forfeit enrollment in their current schools so this is not a short-term option nor a formal distance learning recommendation from MPS. Systems are being put in place should school districts be required by the state to offer a distance learning option based on infection rates.

Please note that students who must quarantine due to a close exposure to someone with COVID-19 will be able to keep up with their studies through an online learning option with their regular teachers. Virtual after-school support for students who are quarantining is available Monday-Thursday from 4-6 p.m.

We use a variety of terms to describe different scenarios when students are not able to come to school to learn in person:

  • Online learning is when ALL students learn virtually. Online learning is currently a crisis response to MPS’s significant staff reduction due to COVID-19. 

  • Distance learning refers to the model that was previously in place in 2020-21 under the Governor’s emergency executive order, which has since ended. In the interim, the legislature did not amend the law to allow for distance learning as we knew it last school year. 

  • E-learning is when ALL students are learning virtually due to inclement weather. MPS has been allotted a total of five e-learning days for the school year.

MPS Online School

Many students realized through their distance learning during the pandemic that they thrive in and prefer virtual learning. In response, MPS expanded its MPS Online School from a high school program to a formal school, now available to students from kindergarten through grade 12.

MPS Online School provides supportive, high-quality classes anywhere and is like any other school with a community of students, teachers and staff dedicated to the academic and social-emotional needs of students.

Families who choose MPS Online School should know that students lose their seats in their original community or magnet schools. However, students have the option to re-enroll in their original school at the end of the academic quarter or semester and will be placed there if seats are available. If seats are not available there, students will be placed in another school of choice, though bus transportation to that school is not guaranteed.

Face coverings/masks

Starting Monday, April 18, 2022, MPS will lift its face covering/mask mandate for all schools and buildings, including school bus transportation. Staff/students can choose to wear a mask based on personal preference or level of risk.

MPS will follow the CDC data tracker, continuing to monitor COVID levels in Hennepin County. MPS will revisit a mask mandate if the infection levels move to the medium or high range in the county. We will also continue to consult with the City of Minneapolis and could initiate a mask mandate at a school where an outbreak occurs.

Social/physical distancing

Maintaining 3-6 feet of social distancing continues to be recommended, especially for younger students and unvaccinated people. Students younger than 15 will be discouraged from gathering together in hallways, common areas and bathrooms.

Students and staff will form small groups that stay together as much as possible throughout the day and from day to day, especially for younger students who are not yet eligible to get vaccinated (students under 12 years of age).

Small groups will maintain 6 feet of distance between each other and unnecessary mixing between groups will be limited as much as possible, such as during lunch, bathroom breaks, arrival and dismissal, free periods, recess, etc.

Transportation

Due to local bus driver shortages, buses will be filled to capacity. Students will be assigned a seat to help with COVID contact tracing, as necessary. Bus seating will be arranged to maintain 6 feet of distance between the driver and all riders.

Buses will be disinfected regularly with special attention to high-contact surfaces. Windows and roof vents will be left open when possible to allow for as much ventilation as possible.

Meal time

Maintaining 6 feet of distance between groups of students during meals is recommended. Students will eat in lunchrooms or other common areas as needed. Seating charts are also recommended.

Field Trips

Due to health and safety, international field trips will not be allowed. Maintaining 3 feet of social distancing between student groups while on the field trip is also recommended.

Athletics

The 2020 guidance on athletic trips will continue to be in place. The specific guidance from the Minnesota State High School League can be found at this link.

Students who have been told to quarantine are expected to not physically attend school, as well as all athletics, activities, and events.

Visitors and Volunteers

Visitors and volunteers will be allowed in schools to support academic and other programs.

Cleaning and Disinfecting

High-touch and high-traffic areas in schools will be cleaned and disinfected on a daily basis as appropriate such as classrooms and offices, public restrooms, halls and main stairwells, drinking fountains, gym floors, and locker rooms.

Ventilation Systems

Strict air quality practices will be followed with air handling systems turned on at least two hours before and after students and staff are in a school. MPS uses the highest-rated air filters available: MERV 11- 14 where possible. HEPA filters will be used in any classroom that does not have the ability to support MERV 14 air filters.

Deciding when to keep your student home if they’re sick

MPS has a guide for families to help them decide when they should keep their students home from in-person learning if they are feeling unwell. The guide outlines the symptoms to look for that mean students should stay home.

Families can also help schools stay open and prevent the spread of COVID-19 by doing the following:

  • Keep students home if they are sick. EVERY DAY, check to see if your student has symptoms of being sick.
  • Keep your student home if they have been exposed to COVID-19.

The guide includes other important information for families:

  • What to expect if your student is sick at school.
  • Make sure your school has your current contact information.
  • Have a plan for who can pick up your student if they are sick at school
  • MPS process for reporting COVID-19 cases to families.

NOTE: If your student has to quarantine due to being exposed to COVID-19, families should contact their school for lesson plans.

If a student becomes sick at school

A dedicated space near the nurse’s office will be set aside for any student who starts to show symptoms of COVID-19. This illness room will be clearly marked and air flow from this room to other rooms will be protected with additional HEPA filters.

The student will be separated from others until they can be picked up by a parent or guardian. Transportation will be provided to any student whose parent/guardian cannot pick them up in a reasonable time.

Quarantining and Isolation

Starting April 18, 2022, Minneapolis Public Schools will discontinue universal contact tracing. As a result, families will not necessarily receive notice if someone in their student’s class, athletics team, bus or other extracurricular activity has tested positive for COVID-19. 

This change will allow students who have had to quarantine on multiple occasions to remain in school, particularly those who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, most often students of color, pre-K students and students receiving special education. 

Quarantine Lengths for Close Contact Exposure

There will be no quarantine period for fully vaccinated students and/or boosted adults exposed to COVID-19. 

The quarantine period for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated students/adults exposed to COVID-19 will change to 5 days (from 10 days) with qualifiers per public health guidelines with masks required for Days 6-10.

Isolation Period for Positive COVID-19 Cases

The isolation period for adults and students who tested positive for COVID-19 remains at 10 days. MPS is keeping a 10-day isolation period at this time due to research suggesting an average period of infectiousness and risk of transmission between 2-3 days before and 8 days after symptom onset per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Free COVID-19 Vaccines and Testing

Vaccines for children ages 5-11

Following CDC approval of the Pfizer pediatric COVID-19 vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds, MPS will be hosting a series of vaccine clinics in our schools in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minneapolis Health Department. To prioritize registration for families who attend the schools where clinics are held, clinic details will be shared with school families first. 

Visit the Minnesota Department of Health website for more information about vaccines for children and vaccine locations.

Vaccines for children ages 12+

Free vaccines are available to anyone 12 years and older. Vaccines are free to everyone, no matter their immigration status. No identification or insurance is required when getting vaccinated. Find free vaccine locations.

Free COVID-19 testing options

There are many free COVID-19 testing opportunities:
  • Test kits are available for students for themselves and if needed to take to their family members wherever there is a co-located school-based clinics. 
  • Walk in or schedule an appointment for a free test at one of the state’s 11 COVID-19 community testing sites.
  • Find other testing options near them through the state’s Find Testing Locations map, including through local providers, pharmacies and clinics: Find Testing Locations.