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COVID-19 Information

Greetings RPS Families,

Now that the school year is underway and daily routines are in place, we want to take a minute to remind you about some of the many COVID-19 practices that are in place to help protect the health and safety of students and staff. As always, you can find up-to-date information on our COVID-19 page, including a weekly update of all positive COVID-19 cases in each school.

Family Notification

  • When we have a confirmed case of COVID-19 in one of our buildings, our team starts contact tracing. There are then several types of communication that may be sent.

    • Close Contacts: When a student is identified to have been in close contact with the individual who tested positive, school staff will contact the family directly via a phone call and an email with information on next steps. This step happens at all schools and all grade levels.

    • Classmates (Elementary): An exposure letter is emailed to other students in the classroom (or on the bus, etc.) with a notification that an individual has tested positive and that, unless their child is symptomatic, there is no need to quarantine. Note: Because students move from classroom to classroom throughout the day, we do not send classroom letters at the secondary level. 

    • Athletics: If an individual on a sports team tests positive, an exposure letter may be sent to the full team with a notification that an individual has tested positive and that, unless their child is symptomatic, there is no need to quarantine. The exception would be if no students were determined to have been at risk (for example, during outdoor practice or events).

    • All Families: As of today, all families within the school community receive a general notification via email when there is a positive case within the building. In the event that there is more than one case on a specific day, families would receive a single notification. This process is currently under review and may change to a weekly update. 

    • Please note that we only report positive cases when the individual who tested positive was in the school while they were potentially infectious. For example, if an individual becomes infected while on vacation and tests positive before returning to school and they quarantine, they were not in contact with others in the school community and we would therefore not report that case.

  • To determine close contact, we follow the guidelines set by the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health:

    • Someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. Please note, there is an exception for schools: “In the K-12 indoor classroom setting, the close contact definition excludes students who were within 3 to 6 feet of an infected student (laboratory-confirmed or a clinically compatible illness) if both the infected student and the exposed student(s) correctly and consistently wore well-fitting masks the entire time. This exception does not apply to teachers, staff, or other adults in the indoor classroom setting."

  • You can find more information in the “Health Screening, Isolation and Quarantine” section of the 2021-22 RPS Safe Learning Plan on the COVID-19 page, as well as in the “Frequently Asked Questions” section.

Air Quality

  • Over the past 18 months, we have worked with our mechanical engineering and health and safety consultants to increase airflow in all of our classrooms to meet or exceed industry standards and to ensure filtration systems are operating effectively. We have specifically been reviewing and following guidance from the State of Minnesota Stay Safe MN Plan and additional recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and ASHRAE. 

  • Ventilation and filtration efficiency have been increased to the maximum extent possible. All air circulated in the school buildings, including in each individual classroom, is filtered and we have worked with our mechanical contractors to maximize the filtration in the classrooms along with maintaining a high level of airflow. A typical classroom exchange rate averages 6-8 air exchanges per hour. Outside air intake settings have been increased to provide more external air into the buildings and classroom air is purged each morning and evening through extended HVAC system operations.

Face Coverings

  • Face coverings are required for any individual (student, staff or visitor) in any RPS building or vehicle, regardless of vaccination status, unless the individual has a medical condition, mental health condition or disability that makes it unreasonable to maintain a face covering. Children who are 2-years-old or younger should never wear a face covering.

  • Face coverings are not required when individuals are outside, eating or drinking, participating in indoor activities involving playing musical instruments (if the instrument cannot be played while wearing a face covering), etc.

  • For more details and a complete list of when masks are or are not required, please review the “Guide to Face Coverings” on our COVID-19 page. 

Lunches

  • Students eat lunch in the cafeteria with as much social distancing as is possible. In elementary schools, students have assigned seats. At the middle school and high school, students sign into their lunch group each day using a QR code on the table. These systems assist with accurate contact tracing in the event that a student tests positive for COVID-19.

Home Screening

  • Before your child leaves for school, we are asking parents/guardians to take their child’s temperature and confirm that they do not have any of the more common symptoms:  fever of 100.4 F or higher, new onset and/or worsening of a cough, difficulty breathing, new loss of taste or smell, or any other of the symptoms associated with COVID-19 or had close contact with a person with confirmed COVID-19. You can find the complete list of symptoms in the “Student Health Screening” section of our COVID-19 page.

Testing for COVID-19

  • In Schools: We are currently waiting on COVID-19 testing kits for our school health offices. Starting soon, when a student at school is sent to the health office with COVID-19 symptoms, we will have the ability to conduct a COVID-19 test (with the consent of the parent/guardian). This can help save time for families and quarantine decisions can be made sooner in the event of a positive result. When this testing option is available, we will notify families. 

  • Community Testing: Following CDC, MDH and MDE recommendations, all unvaccinated individuals, including students, should be tested regularly for COVID-19, even if they do not show any symptoms. You can find testing locations on the MDH website.

If you have any questions about COVID-19 procedures in our District and you can’t find the information on our website, please contact Darby Swank, our COVID-19 coordinator. Her contact information can be found at the bottom of the COVID-19 web page.

All of the measures listed above are in addition to social distancing, regular hand washing and other everyday best practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

As always, we take the health and safety of all of our students and staff very seriously—especially our youngest learners who are not yet able to receive the vaccine. Thank you for taking the time to home screen your child each morning, for keeping them home when they are sick and for being our partner in reducing the spread of COVID-19 in our schools and our community.  

Sincerely,

Superintendent Steven Unowsky

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Changes to COVID-19 Notification

We are continually monitoring and evaluating our COVID-19 procedures. Read this update for two changes we are making, effective the week of Octiber 4.

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