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With the school year winding down and students finishing classes from the comfort of home, the Bloomington Board of Education is left with little more to do than to follow the progress as distance learning continues.

As has become the standard, the May 11 meeting was held through video conferencing, and the district’s health services supervisor, Hannah Hatch, provided the COVID-19 update for the board.

As of last week’s meeting, Minnesota had eclipsed 11,000 cases of COVID-19 and recorded nearly 600 deaths. The increases were, in part, due to testing throughout the state. With an increase in the number of tests being administered statewide comes an increase in positive tests. Nearly 5,000 tests were being administered daily, Hatch noted. “The more you look for it, the more you’re going to find it,” she said.

Testing had been expanded to include anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, exceeding the previous protocol that reserved test for primarily individuals who were hospitalized and essential workers, Hatch explained.

As cases continue to increase, the district has continued its protocols for employees working in district buildings. The district provides personal protective equipment for child care and food service workers who are continuing to work out of district buildings. Gloves and face masks are provided, and face shields are available to employees who choose to wear them. Child care workers are also provided scrubs that they have the option of wearing while working in a building and leaving behind for cleaning upon completion of their workday, Hatch explained.

Supplies, medications and personal belongings left behind in school buildings when they closed in mid-March will be returned at the end of the year, and a plan for disseminating them to families was still being finalized, Hatch noted.

District buildings have been limited to one point of entry, with specific hours when access is available. Hand sanitizer is available at the entrances, and social distancing protocols are expected during building access, according to Hatch.

When food service and child care employees report for work, a health screening is conducted by a district staff member or supervisor, based upon state department of health guidelines. Employees who need to access a building and are not performing an essential job are required to fill out a self-screening form and sign before entering.

“If any of those symptoms or exposures are present, then they should not be entering the buildings,” Hatch said.

The district’s protocols are devised through consultation with Bloomington Public Health, she noted.

Boardmember Beth Beebe asked how rampant COVID-19 has spread through Bloomington. Hatch didn’t have a breakdown beyond the tally for Hennepin County. If a case involves the district’s staff or students, the district would be notified, she said.

“I am proud of how our teachers and staff continue to rise to the challenge, adapting to the needs of our students and families,” Board Chairwoman Nelly Korman said. “Teachers are learning new technology tools, adjusting lesson plans and adapting their schedules to be available to students,” she added.

“To all of our staff, please know you are making a difference.”

Follow Bloomington community editor Mike Hanks on Twitter at @suncurrent and on Facebook at suncurrentcentral.

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