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Monitoring cases of COVID-19 in our community

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Dear Brooklyn Center Community:

Each Tuesday, we receive updated information about rates of COVID-19 in communities in Hennepin County. This week, I was disappointed to see a sharp increase in cases throughout the county and in the Brooklyn Center community. When we last communicated with our community about cases of COVID-19 about a month ago, I was hopeful that we could start in-person learning at some point this spring. Looking at the data and the trend line throughout the metro, I’m not as hopeful that this will happen. 

The data released this week showed 38.5 cases of COVID-19 per 10,000 residents in Brooklyn Center and 35.5 cases for Hennepin County.

COVID trends

With cases now above 30 per 10,000 residents, we now need to consider possibly entering a more restrictive learning model for grades 6-12 students. Should we see a multi-week trend of cases in Hennepin County over 30 per 10,000 residents, we would consider a shift in our learning model for grades 6-12. For grades E-5 students, we are not at a point where we would consider a shift in the learning model. 

Despite the increase of cases in Brooklyn Center and Hennepin County, I want to thank our students, families and staff members for doing their part to keep our school community safe and healthy. The mitigation strategies of staying home when sick, wearing a mask, social distancing and handwashing are second nature now but continue to be important to our community. Your communication with staff about your student's symptoms and exposures along with necessary testing and quarantine have also been vital to containing the virus. If we can continue having success at minimizing the spread of COVID-19 in our buildings through these mitigation strategies, that will be a major factor in future decision making. 

I also want to thank our health services team and nurses for helping control the spread in our buildings. When we learn about a case in a student and/or staff member, we are quick to contact trace and quarantine. As of today, we have not had any known spread take place in our buildings.

While I’d like to make a decision for how learning will look for the rest of the year, there are still so many unknowns, especially as the B.1.1.7 variant makes our younger populations more vulnerable. After consulting with public health professionals in Hennepin County and at the Minnesota Department of Health, they are recommending that school districts continue the school year with as much consistency as possible. 

I am reluctant to implement a more restrictive model at this point in the school year, especially because our mitigation efforts in our buildings have been so effective. I also want to be mindful of the stress and anxiety that comes from switching in and out of learning models. Our students belong in our buildings and my commitment is to keep them in school as much as possible while maintaining safe work and learning environments. We will try to remain in the expanded campus hybrid learning model for the remainder of the school year, as cases allow us to do so.

I want to thank our community for your continued flexibility and patience while we try to make decisions that balance health and safety with the learning and support needs of our students. We will continue to monitor data and provide an update to our community on Tuesday, April 20 for a possible transition to a different learning model. 

Thank you for your continued support. 

Take care and please let me know if you have any questions. 

Sincerely,
Dr. Carly Baker, Superintendent