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Nevis School remains at Level 1 in COVID plan

According to the Nevis School’s online COVID-19 dashboard, 32 out of 595 enrolled students tested positive for COVID during September and 14 cases were still active as of Sept. 30. Among staff, 4 out of 100 staff tested positive in September, with 3 active cases on Sept. 30.

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Nevis School remains at its Level 1 learning plan while taking additional mitigation strategies to help keep staff and students safe and monitoring the COVID-19 case rate. At Level 1 masking is recommended but not required.
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Superintendent Gregg Parks said they are continuing to maintain around 12 students and 3 staff members on the current active roster for testing positive to COVID-19.

Under the district’s Return to Learn Operational Plan there are four levels of learning. The district has been in the least restrictive model, Level 1, since the school year began. Level 1 recommends but does not require masking, limits visitors, allows events and allows the cafeteria, playground and media center to be open to all students.

According to information provided by the district, levels may change throughout the school year in consultation with the district’s COVID management team, made up of representatives from the school, community and county health services, based on current case rates in the county, case numbers in the school, staff availability and other factors.

Levels 2 and 3 require masking and put more limits on students mixing with other groups, but continue in-person learning. Level 4 is distance learning only.

Mitigation strategies

“I do not recommend a change to our masking or other mitigation strategies at this point,” Parks said. “We have seen some spread isolated to several classrooms, but have not seen a community spread within our buildings. We are still encouraging students and staff to wear masks.”

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Parks said that students operate as much as possible in cohorts, either by class or grade level, during the day.

“We continue to emphasize hand washing, social distancing, limiting non-essential people from entering the building, and building and bus sanitation,” he said.

Free COVID-19 testing is available for students and staff.

“We are still alerting close contacts and recommending, but not requiring, that individuals stay home if they are in close contact,” he said. “Our parents are doing a great job of keeping students home when they feel ill. The vast majority of our lab-confirmed positive cases are provided to us by our parents and Hubbard County Public Health.”

Monitoring the situation

Parks said they will continue to monitor the situation.

“We may have to adjust our protective posture, if the case rate starts to rise within the building and overwhelms our ability to function due to high volumes of staff and students being absent,” he said. “Obviously, the best-case scenario is we continue to manage at the individual, class and grade level. This may require the school board to implement a mask requirement for limited time periods (two weeks) while re-evaluating their status on a weekly basis.

“This is not a perfect scenario, but I believe it gives us one more step in having our staff and students feel an increased level of protection. A worst-case scenario is if we are forced to shut down for two weeks to reset due to a COVID outbreak because of a loss of key personnel or a larger outbreak within the school.”

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Related Topics: EDUCATIONCORONAVIRUS
Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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