The Waseca school district isn’t waiting on any new information to cement its COVID-19 plan for the fall, Superintendent Eric Hudspith reported to the School Board Thursday.
“Some of the American Pediatrics Association and CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) conversations that have happened in the media — that’s a national conversation,” Hudspith said.
The number of new coronavirus cases in Waseca, he said, does not require the level of restriction being proposed by other jurisdictions around the country. That includes universal mask wearing, social distancing and more.
Hudspith said that he felt it was necessary to remind families that its COVID-19 plan is not responding to any new information at the moment, since he had been asked by numerous members of the community in the preceding days when the district will decide on its COVID-19 plan.
“If something changes locally, if we have a significant outbreak in our community, we’ll have to make an appropriate decision, obviously,” he said.
In recent days, COVID-19 case counts in the United States have more than quadrupled from where they were only a month ago, with cases rising in nearly 90% of U.S. jurisdictions while the highly contagious Delta variant becomes the dominant strain in the country. This has been accompanied by an unexpectedly high incidence of “breakthrough” infections — fully vaccinated individuals testing positive for and developing symptoms of COVID-19 — though hospitalizations and deaths are still almost exclusively occurring among unvaccinated individuals.
Since the Minnesota Department of Education is not requiring it, Hudspith said, the Waseca school district is moving forward with its COVID-19 plan as it was developed earlier this year.
That plan, which is available on the district’s website, includes recommending (though not requiring nor enforcing) masks for unvaccinated individuals, contact tracing for outbreaks, enhanced indoor ventilation and requiring communication from families about positive COVID-19 cases. School buses will also require universal masking, as mandated by the CDC.
Beyond that, school will resume full-time this fall with a regular calendar and activities.
Hudspith concluded his remarks by sharing his three goals for the school year, which include measuring and improving student achievement, increasing community engagement, and making sure that actions taken by members of the School Board to achieve goals are more explicitly linked to measurable outcomes and less “la carte” going forward.