Eden Prairie Schools will be open five days a week for in-person learning for all students beginning Sept. 8, according to a statement released by the district Aug. 17.
But after considering COVID-19 case rates and vaccination and transmission rates, the district has decided that students from early childhood through sixth grade will be required to wear face coverings, while just recommending that students in grades 7-12 wear them, according to a district statement.
COVID-19 vaccine currently is available to children age 12 and up, which may not include all sixth graders.
All staff will be required to wear face coverings if they are unvaccinated or when they cannot maintain six feet of social distance from students.
Staff who are fully vaccinated and maintain social distance in the school may remove their face covering when it “supports educational outcomes,” the statement says.
Visitors to school buildings who are not fully vaccinated or who cannot maintain six feet of social distance from students are required to wear face coverings.
Face coverings are recommended for both staff and visitors who are fully vaccinated even when they are able to maintain social distance from students, the statement says.
Face coverings also are required for all students, adults and staff on all district transportation vehicles.
Face coverings are not required outside on school grounds, according to Brett Johnson, senior director of community relations and communications.
“As we progress through fall, we will continue to monitor and review our layered mitigation strategies,” the statement said.
Other mitigation methods
The district says its ventilation systems and cleaning routines, combined with continued personal hygiene initiatives and classroom organization in pods maintaining three feet of social distance “to the extent possible,” should limit the spread of illness as it did last school year.
Classrooms have new, fresh air every 8 to 10 minutes and the district uses air filters that meet or exceed industry standards, the statement said. Electrostatic sprayers will continue to be used to disinfect surfaces. Each classroom will be cleaned daily and cafeterias will be cleaned between lunch periods, it said.
Schools will continue to contact trace and notify individuals if staff know there has been a COVID-19 exposure. “School staff may ask about your student and family vaccination status on a need-to-know basis when it is essential to ensure the health of other students and staff,” the statement reads. That information will remain private, it said.
Quarantine procedures follow Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidelines, the statement said
The district recommends, but does not require, COVID vaccinations for students and staff who are eligible. The district encouraged the use of COVID testing, which is offered free in many locations. The district is not providing test, but referred readers to an MDH website for information.
EP Online is available to any student in kindergarten through 12th grade in Minnesota as an alternative to in-person learning, the statement said. That program is approved by the Minnesota Department of Education as a comprehensive K-12 school.
The district also will continue to offer its Eagle Heights Spanish Immersion Online program, which starts with kindergarten and first grade.
“As we did last year, we will continue to give families advance notice to prepare for any changes that affect their school or site,” the statement said.