COVID-19 - Stay Well Procedures

West Central Area Schools

Serving the communities of Barrett, Elbow Lake, Hoffman, Kensington & Wendell

TO:  WCA Families

FROM: Dale Hogie, Superintendent

DATE:  November 11, 2020

Greetings WCA Families and Community Members:

This is an important message for our WCA families regarding WCA’s hybrid learning model and potential for transition to distance learning.

West Central Area Schools began the year with a hybrid learning model that has served most of our students, staff and families well.  Over the last four weeks, school personnel discussed circumstances that could potentially cause a transition to distance learning for various grade levels or even for the entire District.  We have not established specific thresholds but will base decisions on multiple factors.

The most visible factor to parents and community members is the 14-day COVID-19 Case Rate by County.  As cited by the Minnesota Department of Education there are other relevant factors a District must consider when contemplating a move to distance learning.

  • Number of confirmed positive cases in the schools

  • Number of people needing to quarantine in the schools

  • Level of influenza or COVID-like illness in the school community and each school building

  • Information about the conditions in their school community and school buildings

  • Implementation of health best practices in instructional settings, preparedness of facility, transportation capacity, and engagement and communications with local stakeholders

As of November 10, 2020 WCA has been fortunate to have only 8 reported cases of COVID-19 amongst students and staff combined.  The District is aware of only one potential incidence of COVID-19 transmission during school day activities, co-curricular activities, or bus transportation.  Social distancing, wearing masks, and frequent hand washing have played significant roles in this accomplishment. 

We currently have 125 students and two staff in quarantine due to close contacts.  The majority of students quarantined are due to bus rides of over 30 minutes with a person who tested positive within 48 hours of the bus ride.  In addition to the 125 quarantined students, other students have chosen distance learning for COVID related reasons.  

The growing number of students not attending in-person has added a significant level of work and stress to many of our staff.  In just two weeks, we went from fewer than 10 quarantined students to 125.  A similar growth rate in the next week or two will diminish the ability of staff members to teach in-person and distance learners effectively.  Characteristic of our staff, they acknowledge that their instructional burden is high but most desire to continue in our hybrid model.

Teachers will begin more intently planning how to serve students in both learning models and how they will effectively transition to distance learning.  These circumstances place an emotional toll on our teachers because of their desire to serve students well.  WCA administration and staff agree that in-person instruction is the most effective and preferred model.  However, there will be a tipping point when distance learning will serve our students and staff better.

Everyone has been adversely affected by COVID-19 and all WCA staff have expanded responsibilities.  I am appreciative of our staff commitment and I hope you understand the effort WCA staff are making.  On behalf of the WCA administrators and staff, I thank you for the support you have given us during the first two months of the school year.  We will need your continued support and understanding as we do our best to serve all children in the District.

Stay safe and stay well.

Dale Hogie, Superintendent