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Supporting our young people

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Dear BCCS Community:

Our staff members have been tirelessly working to respond to the crisis that our community felt following the killing of Daunte Wright. This is just one of several simultaneous crises currently impacting our young people and the greater community. I wanted to provide an update about how our staff members will continue to support our young people through all of the current conditions of our world.

Looking at all of the uncertainty for this spring, we are more committed than ever to keeping our children in buildings as much as possible and in the safest way possible. Our staff are better equipped to support student needs when students are physically in our buildings. 

Crisis response in BC

We are currently working to transition some of our crisis response services, including:

  • Resource Distribution Center. The RDC has largely been staffed by BCCS staff members and is unsustainable in its current model. We are working with Hennepin County and other community organizations to transition services to other locations. The Blue Barn will close its resource distribution services at 1 p.m. on Friday, April 23. As partnerships with other organizations are finalized, we will share more information with the community.  Click here to read more about the RDC. 
  • Temporary emergency housing. We have worked to place more than 30 families who live in close proximity to BCPD in nearby hotels. Now, we are working with Youthprise and the Red Cross to help fill the gaps and take on this role while we shift to other priorities. Click here to learn more about our new partnership with Youthprise. 
  • Resource and support line. The Resource/Guidance line has received over 1,100 unique calls or texts over the last week. As staff are shifting back into the school buildings, the resource line will close Friday, April 23. Students and families can connect directly with guidance and support staff by calling the school building. Community supports can be accessed by calling United Way 211 or using the Hennepin County Waypoint navigator.

COVID-19 case rates

On Tuesday, we received this week’s COVID-19 case rates in our community and Hennepin County. The data released this week showed 60.2 cases of COVID-19 per 10,000 residents in Brooklyn Center and 47.9 cases for Hennepin County.

14-day trends

Click here to view a larger version of this table.

Looking at the data, we have experienced a multi-week trend of cases of COVID-19 increasing in our community. This is not the direction I wanted to see things go in, especially as we are in the middle of other crises. However, at this time, we will continue to stay in our expanded campus hybrid learning model, barring any other conditions that could impact student safety.

I have consulted with our state and county partners regularly over the last few weeks and they have provided great advice and support on how we continue to make decisions. MDE’s Safe Learning Plan was updated on February 17 to include the following language:

Districts will no longer be required to follow county-level COVID-19 case data alone when deciding on which learning model to implement. Schools are now being instructed to look closely at staff capacity and spread within the school: If about 5 percent of students and/or staff are sick with “COVID-19-like” illness within a week, schools are strongly encouraged to consider a more restrictive learning model.

The county-level data alone will not be the sole factor for us to decide to transition to a more restrictive model. Instead, we will look at cases of school-level COVID-19 transmission, and staff capacities, when making the decision to transition learning models. 

As of today, we still don’t have any evidence to suggest that spread has taken place in our school buildings. It’s important that we look at the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 and not the number of students or staff members in quarantine. Quarantining is a mitigation strategy, not an indication of spread. Our nurses work quickly to contract trace and quarantine so that spread does not take place in our schools. We are currently working on a dashboard to include the number of students and staff members who have COVID-19 in a 7-day period. That will be shared with our community when it’s available. 

I hope this clarifies how we will continue to make decisions about our learning model as it directly relates to the spread of COVID-19 in our schools. 

Mental health support

I know this year is taking its toll on our students and other members of our community. I want us all to give ourselves some grace with how we look at school the rest of the year. We have all experienced trauma, from navigating the pandemic for over a year, distance learning keeping us apart, the killing of two unarmed Black men at the hands of police in our community, and the uncertainty and anxiety of living these traumas every day. 

For the foreseeable future, our focus will be on mental health supports for kids. This is not to say learning shouldn’t or won’t take place but our staff will have the flexibility to spend the time they have with kids the way they see fit. 

A team of district leaders is working on a plan of tiered supports for students that we will share out as soon as details are finalized. This will help guide our support work with students. 

Thank you again for your ongoing support of the Brooklyn Center community.

Take care,

Dr. Carly Baker, Superintendent