All Eden Prairie Schools students and staff will be required to wear face coverings from Jan. 3 to 27 in an attempt to mitigate the rapidly spreading COVID-19 omicron variant, according to a communication that was sent to all district parents just after noon Dec. 31.
Until winter break began Dec. 23, only students in pre-K through 6th grade were required to wear face coverings indoors.
“The omicron variant can spread rapidly, although symptoms may not be as severe,” the message from the district’s Community Relations and Communications Department said. “The issue we face is ensuring employees and students can be present each day.”
All students in pre-K through 12th grade will be required to wear a properly-fitted face covering at school. Parents were asked to ensure that their students come to school with an appropriate mask. School staff will provide them as needed, according to the message.
Employees must also wear face coverings. “The covering can be removed temporarily only if it prevents effective instruction and if the staff member can maintain social distance,” the message said. “These face covering requirements provide protection in the weeks after winter break when many of our families and staff were in close contact with people outside their immediate family.”
Beginning Jan. 31, the first day of second semester, face coverings will be required only for pre-K through 6th grade and strongly recommended for students in grades 7 through 12, the message said.
“The COVID-19 pandemic remains an ever-changing situation,” the message continued. “Eden Prairie Schools has continually monitored and adjusted as needed to keep students safe, and learning in person. If our plans change, they will be communicated to you as soon as possible.”
Continuing mitigation methods
The message said the district will continue its implementation of multiple mitigation methods, including making at-home COVID-19 tests available for students on an as-needed basis; providing information on testing sites in local communities; thorough cleaning routines with products that kill COVID-19; increased air circulation, ventilation and filtration in all school buildings; increased hand washing routines and hand sanitizer stations available throughout district facilities; and social distancing plans, as needed.
The message emphasized that vaccinations are the best way to keep students in school.
“We respect family choices in this matter, and our staff has seen how vaccines protect students from COVID-19,” the message said.
Registration information for Hennepin County vaccination clinics on Jan. 19 and Feb. 9 will be provided in the next district Parent Post, the message said. Clinics will be held at Eden Prairie High School and are open to everyone ages 5 and up to receive their first or second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, or a booster. Parents are guardians may receive vaccinations at the clinics.
Exact times for the clinics were not included in the message, but indicated afternoon and evening hours.
The message also referenced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated isolation and quarantine requirements that are expected this week.
“Complete guidance and corresponding direction from the Minnesota Department of Health have not yet been released,” the message said. “If there are changes to district procedures after reviewing the updated guidance and our state, local, and district data, it will be posted to www.edenpr.org/covid-19.”
School and city COVID data
Most recent data from the school district showed 75 total COVID-19 positive cases during the 14-day period ending Dec. 31. That is up from 70 cases the previous two-week period.
Current cases include 20 staff, 26 pre-K – 5th grade, and 29 grades 6-12 and the TASSEL program.
School has been out of session since Dec. 23.
City of Eden Prairie’s COVID-19 positive case rate dropped to 57.7 per 10,000 residents during the two-week period Dec. 7-20. The case rate was at 72.5 per 10,000 the two-week period of Nov. 30 – Dec. 13.
Hennepin County and most communities bordering EP dropped as well during the most recent reporting period.
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