Learning Model

Transition Guidelines

Preamble

St. Croix Prep is a leader in the education community, and our lower, middle, and upper schools each individually consistently rank in the top five schools in Minnesota. Further, St. Croix Prep as a school district is currently #1 in Minnesota. This accomplishment is representative of the commitment of our dedicated staff and families, and the success our classical model provides. St. Croix Prep’s classical model provides students with the lifelong educational tools to learn and think for themselves – and we know the importance of modeling that for our students. Our community embodies the core values of our program, and knows the importance of being a leader – even when it is not easiest path forward.

Introduction

These Learning Model Transition Guidelines shall be used to guide the decision-making of the school board members for learning model transitions. Additionally, these guidelines outline the foundation and processes for which decisions will be made.​

MN Safe Learning Plan

St. Croix Prep have adapted the learning model parameters identified in MDE’s Safe Learning Plan. The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) Safe Learning Plan directs that the decision change to an alternate learning model be made based on the most up-to-date information about COVID-19 and should center on the impact of COVID-19 at the school level, while maintaining awareness of changes in viral activity in the community (p. 8 & 9).

St. Croix Prep’s Learning Model Transition Guidelines utilize the scalpel approach outlined by the Minnesota Department of Education to prioritize in-person learning while taking into consideration up-to-date information about COVID-19 and factors relevant to our community and school specifically.

The Safe Learning Plan notes that many factors play a role in the decision to change models, and those factors include:

Our guidelines take into consideration the current St. Croix Prep community census and their risk for COVID-19. The risk for children has been clearly established to be negligible, so we primarily evaluated risk to our staff population. St. Croix Prep staff are primarily comprised of individuals that are 18 – 49 years old (73%) with a small portion of staff that are 50 – 64 years of age (27%). The CDC advises the infection mortality ratio for our staff populations is between .0002 and 0.0007 for those under 50 and between .0025 and .005 for those between 50 and 69. This is likely overstated due to the large number of asymptomatic cases that have not been included in these numbers and over time will continue to go down. We then considered the negative impact that distance learning, increased screen time, and isolation has had on children’s mental health causing increasing reports of experiencing depression, suicidal thoughts, and anxiety. We also considered the impacts on at-risk children and how approximately 20% of child abuse reports come from school staff and teachers – that is approximately 492,000 instances of child abuse that would be missed if those children were not in school. These considerations made prioritizing in-school the most important factor in our guidelines.

Information Sources

These guidelines recognize that all decisions pertaining to learning model transitions must be based on facts and research. These guidelines take into consideration:

as well as information from:

Facility Preparedness

St. Croix Prep is positioned to maintain in-person learning days for as long as safe and possible during the pandemic. St. Croix Prep is located in a newer building (2004) that has updated HVAC systems and includes a significant investment in GPS Bipolar Ionization Systems (October 2020). The GPS Bipolar ionizer has proven in independent lab studies to eliminate 99.4% of COVID-19 within 30 minutes. This technology will be instrumental in reducing the spread of communicable diseases in the coming years and is similarly effective at eliminating other common viruses such as norovirus and the common cold. We additionally invested in plexiglass barriers, hand sanitizing stations, and building improvements to ensure the best possible environment to reduce the spread of communicable diseases for our community. We approved budget increases to bring on additional custodial staff to ensure our building stays clean, additional educational staff to assist with navigating “pandemic school”, and additional staff for the health office. Our School Nurse (also our COVID-19 Coordinator) has demonstrated St. Croix Prep’s effectiveness at contact tracing and acted quickly when cases have arisen.

To learn more about how St. Croix Prep has prepared the building:

Regional Support Team

All learning model transitions will be done in consultation with MDE’s Regional Support Team (RST). The RST is comprised of a Coordinator, MDH and MDE personnel.

Executive Order

We recognize that if Governor Walz’s Executive Order 20-82 is rescinded or amended it may be cause for a learning model transition from hybrid or distance learning to in-person learning.

Dashboard

St. Croix Prep will be providing weekly updates on the following information in our dashboard:

MN Safe Learning Model Options

*St. Croix Prep defines elementary as K- 4 (Lower School) and Secondary as grades 5-12 (Middle & Upper School). St. Croix Prep’s elementary and secondary schools may operate in differing divisions, based on guidance in The Safe Learning Plan.

Case Range

Learning Model Option

LS

MS

US

0-9

In person learning for all students

10-19

Elementary in-person, Middle/Upper School Hybrid

20-29

Hybrid learning for all students

30-49

Elementary Hybrid, Middle/Upper School Distance

50

Distance Learning for all students

When will St. Croix Prep Change Models?

More Restrictive

In-Person to Hybrid

Hybrid to Distance

Two or more prior weeks of consecutive material increases in case rate numbers with at least one week above the corresponding MDE/MDH case rate threshold

OR

Three consecutive weeks above the corresponding MDE/MDH case rate threshold

Two or more prior weeks of consecutive material increases in case rate numbers with at least one week above the corresponding MDE/MDH case rate threshold

OR

Three consecutive weeks above the corresponding MDE/MDH case rate threshold

Less Restrictive

Distance to Hybrid

Hybrid to In-Person

Two or more prior weeks of consecutive material decreases in case rate numbers with at least one week below the corresponding MDE/MDH case rate threshold

OR

Three consecutive weeks or more below the corresponding MDE/MDH case rate threshold

Two or more prior weeks of consecutive material decreases in case rate numbers with at least one week below the corresponding MDE/MDH case rate threshold

OR

Three consecutive weeks below the corresponding MDE/MDH case rate threshold

Timeframes

Planned Transitions:

Announcement

2 Weeks Notification

If the St. Croix Prep School Board votes to change to a more or less restrictive learning model, the change must provide the St. Croix Prep community with at least two weeks’ notice – except in the case of a school outbreak (as defined below and by MDH).

*An outbreak is defined by MDH as 3 or more students absent from the same classroom for a lab-confirmed case of COVID-19.

Transition

1-2 Days

When a learning model transition is approved, up to two staff planning days will be scheduled before the new learning model begins. These will be non-instructional days, in which essential workers childcare will be provided .

Emergency Transitions:

Outbreak in School

Immediate

In the instance of of a school outbreak, St. Croix Prep administration may call for an immediate, temporary transition for a classroom, grade, or school-wide to move to distance learning.

*An outbreak is defined by MDH as 3 or more students absent from the same classroom for a lab-confirmed case of COVID-19.

Frequency of Transitions:

Duration of Models

4 Weeks Minimum

When transitioning to a new learning model, St. Croix Prep will remain in the model for no less than four weeks to minimize the burden on the St. Croix Prep community of frequent model transitions and to cycle thru two COVID-19 incubation periods before returning to a less restrictive model.​

Closing

In closing, our guidelines align with the Safe Learning Plan’s goal to “protect the health and wellness of our students, staff and families, and to prioritize safe in-person learning for students.” They provide criteria that will be used to gauge the timely and logistics of a transition to an alternate learning model, and St. Croix Prep will remain in communication with the Regional Support Team when our guidelines suggest an alternate learning model should be considered.

St. Croix Prep Board Votes To Go Distance Learning

Thursday, November 12

On Thursday, November 12, the St. Croix Prep board met in a special meeting to approve guidelines for learning model transitions, determine if a learning model decision was appropriate, and make a decision related to Activities if a learning model decision was approved. The following is a SUMMARY of the board actions on the November 12 Meeting:

Friday, November 20

Planning Day

No school; this day will be used by faculty as a transition planning day. Note: The school is allowed five transition planning days throughout the year.

Monday, November 23

Distance Learning Begins​

Wednesday, January 20

Planned Return to Hybrid​

This is the start of Q3. Upon return to school on Wednesday, January 20, we will plan on resuming the current hybrid (Blue/Gold) schedule. In the beginning of January, we will begin to refine this planning and address requests to transition between learning models.

Details of the decision-making process are noted below:

1.

Case Rate Data for Washington County

Based on the case rate data released yesterday all divisions of our school have met the guidelines for consideration of transition from Hybrid to Distance. Note: In previous meetings, the Board has defined “elementary” as K-4 (Lower School) and “secondary” as 5-12 (Middle School and Upper School). In addition, the Board has recognized that there may be different learning models for each of these.

2.

Regional Support Team Meeting

Yesterday, St. Croix Prep Covid Response team members and members of our Board met with the Regional Support Team (e.g Coordinator, MDH and MDE personnel). In that meeting, they strongly recommended that our entire school move to a distance learning model by Thanksgiving; they highlighted the increasing case rates, the anticipated continuation of this, along with the family gatherings/celebrations they anticipate occurring over the next few weeks. Regarding, the return date of January 20, they expressed more comfort with this date, as opposed to January 4, which would still be in the incubation period of holiday celebrations.

3.

Staffing at St. Croix Prep

Since the start of school, our administrative team has indicated this would be the largest challenge during this pandemic. Over the past week we have needed to find coverage for nearly 20 employees each day, with these numbers continuing to increase.

4.

Internal Health Data

Over the past three weeks we have seen steady Covid-19 positive cases with our employees and students. Prior to this week, we were confident in stating that these cases were not the result of in-school transmission. Now we are not sure. Note: We will attempt to update our Dashboard today, but we might not be able to do this until Monday.

Continuation of Activities

In accordance with current guidance from the MSHSL and actions of surrounding districts, St. Croix Prep will continue with its activities programming.