As the school year approaches, Independent School District 318 released guidelines concerning COVID-19 and the 2021-2022 school year. The updated guidelines do not require students and staff to wear masks or receive vaccination.

The mitigation measures may be updated based on changes as the school year progresses, based on variant activity and case rates.

If members of the community have questions or wish to provide feedback, they can do so by contacting the Superintendent’s Office at 218-327-5704. The public may also address the School Board directly at any School Board meeting. The next board meeting is Monday, August 16. The open forum begins at 6 p.m. and is an opportunity for the public to address the board in an informal manner. If they wish to have their statements on record, they may do so during the public input portion of the regular meeting which begins at 6:30 p.m. Meetings take place in the school district’s administration building at 820 NW 1st Avenue in Grand Rapids.

All guidelines will be shared with parents using an electronic flyer system, on the school district’s websites, on its Campus Parent Portal, and on social media channels. The information will also be made available in its newsletter, which is mailed to all residents.

Below is the full guideline information provided by ISD 318:

For the 2021-2022 school year, districts will be given more local control and COVID-19 responses will be based on community- and school-level data. The Minnesota Departments of Health and Education, following CDC guidance, have created best practice recommendations for COVID-19 prevention in schools. ISD 318 knows that recommendations and mitigation measures may change based on variant activity and case rates.

These recommendations will be implemented as follows:

Masking

The CDC, MDE, and MDH have recommended the use of masks for all people in school settings. While ISD 318 has also recommended that students and staff wear masks even if vaccinated, they will not be required. Families who are concerned about COVID transmission will be supported if they choose to send their children to school with masks. For those who are concerned about transmission, they may also contact district schools to receive a surgical mask, which will offer a higher level of protection than cloth masks.

The Center for Disease Control has determined that masks are a requirement on mass transit, and as a result, students and staff will be required to wear masks on school buses.

Mitigation Measures

ISD 318 will continue to implement physical distancing where possible and encourage frequent handwashing and hygiene breaks throughout the school day.

Cases of COVID-19

All families should keep their child home when sick. If a student falls sick at school, a parent or guardian will be called to bring the child home.

Schools will continue to report positive COVID-19 cases to public health officials.

Quarantines

A 14-day quarantine for unvaccinated close contacts is still considered best practice. A positive test or not getting tested will mean 10 days at home from the first day of symptoms. A negative COVID test or an alternate diagnosis could mean attending school sooner. Individuals who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine if exposed to a positive case unless they develop symptoms.

With the current low positivity rate, the school district does not plan to contact trace, but notifications of positive cases will be sent to families.

COVID-19 Vaccinations

ISD 318 recommends that all people eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine get vaccinated. Increased vaccination rates will help limit the spread of the disease and reduce the need for mitigation measures. There is no requirement to obtain a vaccine.

Vaccination clinics will occasionally be offered at 318 schools. Information regarding the clinics will be made available under the COVID-19 tab on the school district’s website at isd318.org.

Visitors and Volunteers

Visitors and volunteers are welcome in the school district’s buildings. Visitors are asked to stay home if exhibiting symptoms of illness.

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