MINNETRISTA — Westonka Public Schools is canceling field trips, as well as evening and weekend events, through April 12 in response to COVID-19 concerns.
In his March 13 Borg Report, Superintendent Kevin Borg said state health officials are recommending schools begin enacting community mitigation strategies, such as limiting large assemblies and practicing social distancing, to help prevent the spread of the virus.
“We support this direction and will continue to take the actions necessary to protect the most vulnerable populations in the community,” Borg wrote.
The district’s new event protocols are effective immediately and include:
- As long as schools remain open, Westonka Adventure Club, youth enrichment activities and all other before- and after-school programs for students will remain open
- All evening and weekend school-sponsored events (concerts, event fundraisers, etc.) in all district schools are canceled through April 12
- All field trips and other off-campus learning experiences are canceled through April 12
- All in-school assemblies and large gatherings are canceled through April 12
- All Community Education evening and weekend classes, activities and facility rentals in all district schools are canceled through April 12. The Westonka Activity Center, including Community Ed. classes run through that building, will continue to operate normally.
- White Hawks activities: Game/meet cancellations are determined by the Minnesota State High School League. High school and middle school practices will continue until further notice.
Borg says the district has been in regular communication with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Minnesota Department of Education about the evolving COVID-19 situation in the state, and as of Friday, March 13, they are not recommending broad school closures for a few reasons. They include:
- People under the ae of 19 are at the lowest risk of contracting COVID-19
- Handwashing and staying home when youre sick are proven to be more effective at stopping the spread of the virus than closing schools
- School closures have unintended consequences, such as negative impacts on education continuity, student nutrition and access to lunch, workplace/economy and health care.
- In other states and countries, those places that closed school have not had more success in reducing spread than those that did not close.
“It’s important to note that no one in our school community (staff or students) has a confirmed case of COVID-19 at this time,” Borg said. “If a student or staff member does test positive for COVID-19, district officials will be contacted by MDH, and we will work with state health officials to determine if we should make any modifications to our normal school operations.”
Some of those modifications could include shorter-term school closure (a few days) for cleaning and/or contact tracing, Borg said, adding that MDH says a positive case of COVID-19 does not automatically prompt a school closure.
“At Westonka, we are experts in teaching and learning, and we will continue to rely on public health experts to keep our students, staff and community safe and healthy,” Borg wrote.
Borg said the district is “actively preparing” for an outbreak and its potential impacts, noting staff is working to adapt the district’s eLearning Plan, which was designed for weather-related closures, to accommodate a multi-day closure.
“We highly recommend that families make contingency plans in the event state health officials direct Westonka to close school,” Borg said. “Having short-term and longer-term plans is advisable.”
The school district has created a website for school updates related to COVID-19. It is at www.westonka.k12.mn.us/covid19.