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North Branch Schools

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October 27, 2021

9/24/2021 11:13:00 AM
Taylors Falls Elementary sees surge of COVID cases, two classes quarantined

The Chisago Lakes School Board held a special meeting on Monday, September 20 to discuss the rising COVID-19 cases in Taylors Falls Elementary. Jeff Lindeman was not present.

Two full classes, a kindergarten and second grade section, were both on 10-day quarantine as the meeting was held. There were five positive cases and three symptomatic children out of 21 students in the kindergarten section, and four positives and four symptomatic cases from the 26 students in the second grade class.

The total number of students at the school that are positive as of Monday afternoon was 16, as well as two teachers. However, 56 students had COVID-like symptoms, as well as seven staff.

Taylors Falls Principal Jason Riebe said that on Monday, 106 students were absent, but that it was a mix of the positive cases, minor symptoms or just outright concern.

Monday also signaled the start of the mitigation strategies at TF. Besides those two classrooms being on a 10 day quarantine, the entire building was deep cleaned over the weekend and students will eat lunch in their classrooms while an additional lunchroom is set up. Up until now, the students were mixing together at lunch time in the cafeteria. The students will also take recess in smaller groups.

The high school has also seen an uptick in cases. They had just three positive students and one positive staff the week of September 5, but that number went to 13 students and two staff the week of September 12.

The district did work on contact tracing and said there was not a discernible pattern to the cases, so they didn’t believe there was spread within the building. Superintendent Dean Jennissen said they consulted with Chisago County Public Health officials and created additional spacing for indoor activities and began to remove or limit concessions available.

The other four schools in the  district have been doing well, however. Over the first two weeks of classes, the Primary School only had one student positive, Lakeside has had two staff, the Middle School has had 13 student positives and one staff and Early Childhood has had just one staff member.

Board member Lori Berg was concerned with the numbers and the potential  positive case growth. “What is our plan if we all of a sudden jump from five percent to 10 percent?” she asked.

“I don’t know if we have any other plan. Our current plan is to have students out of school who are COVID positive,” Jennissen said. “We don’t have a plan beyond that other than to keep sick kids out. But when we see trends and issues, we are identifying those.”

At the end of the meeting, the administration’s recommendations were to support doing a daily check-in with nurses, planning to cohort and distance students for additional mitigation, treat students who are on an activity quarantine the same as a school quarantine (currently, students-athletes teams can be quarantined, but still attend schools), consider mask reccomendations, raising sub pay to maintain adequate staffing and stay in tune with the county public health officials.

There was no official vote on any matters, but the board will still hold the regular meeting this Thursday, September 23, and the topics could be broached again.

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