Back-to-School 2021: Updated mask requirements for K-6 are now linked to COVID-19 cases, details to get prepared for the return of school on Sept. 7 (Updated Aug. 23)
(08/23/2021) Anoka-Hennepin Schools understands that parents/guardians, students and staff value clear communication and as much advance notice as possible regarding school and how the district will mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on school operations. Under any circumstance, Anoka-Hennepin remains committed to providing instruction five days per week throughout the entire school year. Please read this update carefully as it includes a modification to the district’s back-to-school plan that will be in effect when school resumes on Sept. 7.
In July, the district explained that the wearing of face coverings/masks will be recommended this upcoming school year and not required, an action that follows Minnesota Department of Health and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations. At it’s Aug. 23 meeting, the school board modified the district position by approving a resolution requiring universal indoor masking for all persons in a school setting in grades K through 6, and for sixth grade students under conditions linked to high case rates of COVID-19.
Important details of the masking requirements section of the Anoka-Hennepin COVID-19 mitigation plan include:
- Universal indoor masking for all people in a school setting grades K through grade 5, and for 6th grade students inside the school building, and for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors in K-5 school settings and 6th grade classrooms regardless of vaccination status when the COVID-19 case levels are greater than 15 per 10,000 as communicated by the Minnesota Department of Health on the Weekly Case Rate by County of Residence data report.
- Sixth grade students are defined as classrooms where the entire classroom is composed of sixth grade students.
- Anoka-Hennepin will monitor and provide any necessary updates to mask requirements on Fridays following the publication of the weekly report.
- Masks for students in Grades 7-12 remain strongly recommended, not required and will be revisited in the event that county level data continues to climb.
- The resolution linking masking guidance to county level COVID-19 numbers is in place for the entire 2021-22 school year
The last several months have shown that mitigating the transmission of COVID-19 in our schools and communities requires a layered approach. The use of face coverings/masks is one strategy along with increased air filtration, enhanced cleaning and sanitation, 3 feet of social distancing when possible and other strategies in place to ensure students can attend school in person five days a week as planned.
The modification to link face coverings/masks to public health data for 2021-22 was made by the school board after a review of district, county, state and federal COVID-19 information and the district's COVID-19 preparedness plan. Anoka-Hennepin remains committed to providing a safe and healthy learning environment for staff, students and the community.
Anoka-Hennepin will continue to prioritize protecting the health and safety for staff and students and monitor any impact of COVID-19 on school operations. The following guidance is being provided now to families in advance of the school year to support planning decisions about the upcoming year.
- All students will return to in-person learning five days a week with the exception of those who have enrolled in the Anoka-Hennepin Virtual Academy. Learn more at ahschools.us/virtualacademy.
- Programs such as distance learning, the A/B hybrid learning format, and staff development days to prepare for learning format shifts will also not be offered during the 2021-22 school year.
- Face coverings/masks are recommended for all persons regardless of vaccination status. This guidance applies both inside buildings or in outdoor settings.
- Universal indoor masking for all people in a school setting grades K through grade 5, and for 6th grade students inside the school building, and for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors in K-5 school settings and 6th grade classrooms regardless of vaccination status when the COVID-19 case levels are greater than 15 per 10,000 as communicated by the Minnesota Department of Health on the Weekly Case Rate by County of Residence data report. Updates are posted at ahschools.us/covid-19.
- Face coverings/masks are required on student transportation. This is a federal requirement and not a rule under the authority of the school district.
- Face coverings/masks for athletics and activities are under the jurisdiction of the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL).
Health and safety protocols
- The district will maintain the enhanced air quality standards and use of the Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization system, hand sanitizer stations, encourage hand washing, and continue enhanced cleaning methods as strategies to protect students and staff.
- Social distancing of 3 feet will be expected as conditions allow. There are no group size limits (assemblies, concerts, etc). This will continue to be monitored and could change based on conditions in the school setting.
Vaccinations and testing
- COVID-19 vaccinations and testing for COVID-19 are not required by the school district.
- Options for COVID-19 vaccinations and testing in community locations and through individual medical providers will continue as a recommendation.
- Anoka-Hennepin will continue to work with county and state public health partners regarding voluntary vaccination and testing programs.
Reporting positive cases, quarantine and isolation
- Anoka-Hennepin Schools will ask students and/or staff with confirmed cases of COVID-19 to quarantine or isolate for 10 days from the positive test date if asymptomatic, or from the day of first symptom. Members of the same household that are close contacts and are unvaccinated or not had a positive test more than 2 weeks ago but less than 90 days will be quarantined for 10 days.
- Please notify health service at your students' school if symptoms or positive tests for COVID-19 occur. School will not conduct contact tracing initially unless circumstances require.
- Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 will be required to stay home for a minimum of ten (10) days from the time symptoms started and/or the time they tested positive for COVID-19. They may not return to school until after that time and must be symptom free.
The Minnesota Department of Education, Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently do not require quarantine for those students or staff who were in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
- Students in quarantine or isolation will follow traditional methods to make-up coursework unless instructed otherwise by their teacher. Virtual or online learning should not be expected.
- Parents/Guardians are encouraged to work directly with their child’s teacher to make arrangements. All students must complete required coursework.
Communication and notification
- Anoka-Hennepin will maintain the ahschools.us/covid-19 website as a portal for information with links to data and health and safety guidelines.
- Parents/guardians at the elementary level will be notified by email if three or more students in a classroom have a positive case of COVID-19.
Other frequently asked questions
- Student meals will be provided at no charge for the second consecutive year due to a program funded through the federal government. High school students will need to use their student identification card for meals.
- Volunteers will be able to support teachers and schools in limited circumstances. Face covering requirements will be the same as those of staff in the building.
- Adventures Plus face covering requirements will be the same as those of staff in the building for both students and staff.
- Visitors at the elementary school level will continue to be limited until students are eligible for vaccinations.
- Field trips and travel for school programs will be restored. Details will be shared by schools and program coordinators based on the situation.
This information is based on current guidance from the Minnesota Department of Education as of mid-August and guidance could change based on further direction.
Visit ahschools.us/covid-19 for additional information regarding the back-to-school plan and additional information from Anoka-Hennepin Schools.Z
View FAQs regarding the 2021-22 Return to School plan on the Anoka-Hennepin Schools COVID-19 website.