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Eight residents, two staff members test positive for COVID-19 at McKenna Crossing

Eight residents and two staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 at the McKenna Crossing senior living in Prior Lake, a facility administrator said Tuesday.

Two residents have been hospitalized.

The outbreak emerged on May 7 when two residents who live together in assisted living tested positive for the virus, Melissa Kirchhoff, the facility’s campus administrator with Presbyterian Homes & Services, said in a statement.

“They are recovering in isolation in their apartment with the support of dedicated staff,” she wrote.

Five residents in memory care and one additional resident in assisted living have since tested positive.

Two of these residents are recovering at a dedicated COVID-19 recovery site, Interlude Restorative Suites in Fridley, and two other residents have been hospitalized.

The remaining two residents are receiving care and support while self-quarantined in their memory care suites at McKenna Crossing.

Two staff members have also tested positive, Kirchhoff stated. They are recovering at home until they are cleared to return to work.

In total, 183 seniors live at McKenna Crossing.

“Due to the special needs and challenges of isolating individuals in memory care, we have implemented isolation precautions throughout the memory care residential area by encouraging residents to stay in their rooms and ensuring that staff use appropriate personal protective equipment as they provide care and support,” Kirchhoff wrote.

“We love these individuals like our own family and the outpouring of support from residents, family and the community has been truly inspiring. We are in regular contact with families and pray for all those feeling isolated and anxious.”

On Sunday, May 10, the Minnesota Department of Health added McKenna Crossing to the state’s list of congregate care facilities with confirmed exposure to COVID-19.

Kirchhoff said residents, family and staff were notified of the positive cases on the same day the test results were received. They’ve also been updated as new cases have emerged.

McKenna Crossing is the only congregate care facility in Scott County with a reported exposure, but over 150 facilities have reported exposures statewide.

“Exposure is defined as a COVID exposure from either a resident, staff member of visiting service provider,” the health department states.

The health department’s list is cumulative and some facilities may not have ongoing transmission.

On Thursday, Minnesota recorded 13,435 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 663 related deaths since the outbreak began.

Scott County residents account for 186 of the state’s cases and one death.

“Following the Governor’s announcement last week about additional state testing, we are getting many questions, but we have not yet seen broader testing being conducted by the state,” Kirchhoff said, adding they are coordinating with their primary care teams to conduct additional testing as directed.

The facility remains under visitor restrictions, which were implemented on March 13.

Residents are encouraged to wear masks that were donated by the Prior Lake Fire Department, Kirchhoff said, and personal protective equipment is provided to caregivers.

Non-clinical staff are also required to wear masks.

“I want to commend the McKenna Crossing staff who come to work every day,” Kirchhoff concluded. “They have gone above and beyond to care for residents and to keep them engaged and connected with each other and with their families while practicing social distancing. Their dedication and creativity are amazing and they infuse these difficult days with hope and love.”

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Prior Lake, Burnsville high schools announce virtual graduation ceremonies

Late last week, the Minnesota Department of Education released guidelines for graduation ceremonies. The top recommendation: schools should hold ceremonies that can be conducted remotely and ensure attendees do not need to leave their homes, like a virtual ceremony.

“This year’s graduation ceremonies will look different than they traditionally do, and I am confident our schools will find creative ways to recognize the incredible work and commitment of our graduating students,” Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker said in a statement.

While the guidelines do not allow for a gymnasium or football field gathering, it does provide public health guidance on what schools, colleges or universities would need to consider when contemplating a safe celebration outside of the home, such as a car parade or a parking lot ceremony.

“Graduation is an important occasion and accomplishment in a student’s academic journey and deserves to be celebrated,” Minnesota Department of Health Epidemiologist and COVID-19 School Liaison Susan Klammer said. “These guidelines were made with public health protection in mind, and by adhering to them, we can celebrate our students while safely navigating this challenge together.”

Area schools are taking the guidelines to heart.

Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools announced last week a virtual graduation ceremony will be held May 28 for Prior Lake High School graduates.

“We share the feelings of loss over having Senior year abruptly and unexpectedly cut short,” Prior Lake High School Principal John Bezek wrote in an email to families. “Please know that we are committed to making alternate plans to recognize Seniors and provide some measure of closure to their school career.”

In addition to the virtual ceremony, students will be provided the opportunity to walk across a stage as their name is read, Bezek said. This will take place over the course of several days.

A traditional ceremony is being planned for July 23 should the state’s guidance change before then.

A virtual commencement ceremony will be streamed for Burnsville High School students on Friday, June 5 at 6 p.m. on the district’s YouTube channel, according to the district. The virtual ceremony will feature messages from staff, student speakers and individual recognition of all graduates.

Students will receive their gap and gown, diploma cover and official ceremony program on Thursday, May 28.

A future event could be scheduled for early August depending on state guidance.

Burnsville Alternative High School will also host a virtual commencement ceremony featuring recognition of each graduate and recorded messages from student speakers and school staff. The ceremony will premiere on the district’s YouTube channel on Thursday, June 4 at 5 p.m.

Students graduating from the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage Transition program will receive their diplomas individually on Tuesday, June 2 between 2 and 5 p.m. at the River Ridge Education Center. Students will be assigned specific times.

District 191 Adult Education program graduates will receive their cap and gown, certificates and have a photo opportunity during the week of May 18 at the Diamondhead Education Center. On Thursday, June 4 a virtual commencement will be broadcast on YouTube.

“This year, maybe more than ever before, college students have been challenged in ways they never expected, both academically and personally,” Commissioner Dennis Olson, Minnesota Office of Higher Education, said. “I want to extend my heartfelt admiration and congratulations to each graduate for meeting this critical milestone in their life, and I wish them much success in the future.”