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District 477 parents and families will be receiving this important Tiger Times update from Superintendent Ben Barton today. 

Our Pathway to Return

If you’re like me, you are probably looking at the rising COVID-19 case rate across our state with some level of concern. When I listened to Health Commissioner Malcom last week declare Minnesota a “hot spot”—worse than New York City, Seattle or Chicago—I had to admit to myself that it is not realistic to expect to return to in-person learning on Jan. 4.

In my Nov. 16 communication about moving to distance learning for all, I mentioned we would need at least two quarantine cycles before we could return to some sort of in-person learning. I had hoped that might be after winter break. That won’t be the case.

The numbers released by the Department of Health this week continue to show wide-spread community transmission, with both Sherburne and Mille Lacs Counties over 200 cases per 10,000 residents.

You might recall our numbers need to drop below 50 to return to a Hybrid Model at the elementary level.

With the holiday season approaching, local public health officials can’t provide a projection of when we might be able to return.

The Minnesota Department of Education this week convened a task force of school superintendents to work on criteria for students to return to school.

Having our students back in-person as soon as it is safe to do so remains our priority. Unfortunately, we will not be able to determine a target return date until mid-to-late January when we have more information on COVID cases as well as vaccination info.

Our Pathway to Returning will require the same health and safety protocols we have had all year — with diligent cleaning schedules, strict social distancing, required masks, and all staff fitted with personal protective equipment. It is only with everyone’s cooperation that we can hope to bring students and staff back into our buildings.

It is also critically important that families continue to report illnesses to our school health services. Our school health staff are an important link in contact tracing and community mitigation—as our health department is overrun with cases.

Please help us do our part to assist our local health departments with this task by reporting COVID-related illnesses.

As we prepare for winter break, I want to express my deep gratitude for the support and partnership we have throughout our Princeton Public Schools community. As I’ve talked to parents and teachers,

I’ve heard admiration for both. Families are juggling work and school from home, and our staff are doing everything they can to connect with students, inspire engagement, and focus on the Essential Essentials. We know that isolation is not good for human beings, so I hope that each of you will continue to reach out and connect via phone or video chat and keep those human connections strong.

And in the coming weeks—as we say “good riddance” to 2020, we will look with hope and optimism to 2021. We will get through this together, and the worst of it will be behind us! We are already preparing for 2021-22 and Kindergarten enrollment, and it is in the eyes of our students we see hope for a better future! Have a happy and hope-filled holiday season!

Meal pickup will continue to be available every Wednesday through December at Princeton Middle School. This includes December 23 & 30 when there is no school. We want to ensure that every child has access to meals throughout the long holiday break. The hours for pickup are 6:30am - 12:00pm at door #4. Please arrive early as we do close promptly at 12:00pm. If you are picking meals up for multiple students, please bring a box to carry meals back to your vehicle.

Beginning Jan. 4, 2021, we will change our meal distribution days to provide meals bags for 7 days a week. Distribution will be like we did this summer. We will be open every Tuesday and Friday at the Middle School from 6:30am - 12:00pm at door #4.

Nutrition Services does it's best to follow the menu posted on our website. Follow the MS COVID Menu here: https://princeton.nutrislice.com/menu/menus-eula. Challenges in delivery or availability of specific food items may cause changes without notice. If you have any specific questions or concerns regarding allergens or heating instructions, please contact nutrition@isd477.org.

If your student has a specific dietary accommodation, please contact Nutrition Services so we may have the correct meals ready for you. If you have already done so, no need to do it again. The opposite is also necessary. If you have registered for special meals and will not be picking up a certain day, please let us know.

Superintendent Ben Barton

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