Frequently Asked Questions
What does the Archdiocese say about face coverings?
As we communicated on Friday, August 20, 2021, we are requiring masks at St. Odilia to begin the school year. In that communication, I misstated the position of the Archdiocese on face coverings. The Archdiocese does not have a policy requiring that face coverings be optional in Catholic schools at the start of the 2021-2022 school year. The Archdiocese does require that Catholic schools maintain a site (school) level Pandemic Preparedness and Readiness Plan that systematizes a multilayer approach to disease mitigation that does not rely on single strategies and recognizes the role of parents/guardians.
Where did you find information to support the use of masking?
We have taken our guidance for support of masking from the MDH, and the CDC. Our two goals for the year have been to keep students and staff healthy and keep students and staff in the building. Masking achieves those two goals. Below are some additional
CDC articles on masking:
CDC calls on Americans to wear masks to prevent COVID-19 Spread
Studies Show More COVID-19 in Areas Without Schools Masking Policies
Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools
When will the current protocols be up for review and what will that look like?
- Friday, October 15, 2021 - Health Office provides data about COVID-19 cases to the leadership team
- Monday, October 18, 2021 - Task Force meeting and SAC meeting
- Wednesday, October 20, 2021 - Leadership and Nurses meeting
- October 27- November 1, 2021 - communication to parents in weekly e-handout, monthly newsletter, or separate email
We will continue this schedule monthly and meet earlier if the situation calls for it.
What will be considered or reviewed at those times?
When reviewing protocols, we take into consideration guidance from MDH, the CDC, and the Archdiocese along with the following:
- Current school community cases/situation
- Current local community cases/situation
- Status of availability of a vaccine for children under 12
The discussion will be around how our current safety protocols are working and if any adjustments can or should be made to best fit the St. Odilia School community.
Who is participating in making the decisions?
Decisions are made by the St. Odilia leadership team with the guidance of our school nurses.
- Vicki Marvin, Principal
- Nikki Giel, Assistant Principal
- Kay Hannon, Preschool Director
- Tracy Umezu, School Nurse
- Katherine Pomerleau, School Nurse
- Fr. Erich Rutten, Pastor
- Rick Storms, Parish Administrator
Will there be a requirement to vaccinate?
At this time we are not requiring the vaccine for students or staff. We will continue to follow the requirements and laws laid out by the Minnesota Department of Health. Currently the MDH is not requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for students or staff.
Why aren’t vaccinated 6th graders allowed to unmask?
At this time, 21% of our 6th graders are old enough to be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Because of this, we are not allowing 6th graders to unmask, regardless of vaccination status.
What is the percentage of staff that are vaccinated?
89% of the staff at St. Odilia are vaccinated.
What is the percentage of 7th and 8th graders who are vaccinated?
74% of the 7th and 8th graders at St. Odilia are vaccinated.
Why will we allow staff and 7th and 8th graders to unmask?
At this time, we are only considering groups of people who have had the opportunity to be vaccinated. Both of these groups meet the criteria. Having 74% and higher vaccination rate adds to our confidence in this decision being safe for students and staff.
Will parents and volunteers still need to mask in the vestibule and school building if they are vaccinated after 10/18?
Yes, all parents, volunteers, and visitors will continue to be required to wear a mask when entering the school building for any reason regardless of vaccination status.
Will you do weekly testing for staff not vaccinated and who are unmasking?
No. It is an expectation that unvaccinated staff continues to mask in all situations. Also, vaccination status is private health information, so this would be impossible to enforce.
What quarantine procedures will be in place as the school moves forward with the phased approach of returning to normal?
We will be following the Minnesota Department of Health’s best practice recommendations for quarantine decisions. If an individual is not vaccinated, unmasked, and is exposed, they will need to quarantine per MDH guidelines. If an individual is unmasked and prefers to not share vaccination information with the health office, they will need to quarantine per MDH guidelines. If an individual is vaccinated they will not need to quarantine unless showing symptoms after an exposure per MDH guidelines. In the school setting, when both individuals are masked, no contact tracing or quarantining is required.
Will you be doing contact tracing if needed?
Yes, like last year the health office will identify and notify close contacts if it is necessary.
My vaccinated child is sick with a cold, why does he/she need to get tested for COVID?
If your vaccinated child has symptoms that are associated with COVID-19, he/she still needs to get tested. While the vaccine is highly effective in preventing infection caused by COVID-19, there are instances of breakthrough cases. You can get a rapid COVID-19 test through the health office for your child by filling out this form.
One of my children is sick and has a COVID-19 test pending, do siblings have to stay home until the results are received?
Currently, siblings are able to come to school if one child is sick in the house and a COVID-19 test is pending. If the test comes back positive, all children living in the household will need to be sent home, and the health office will help advise when they are able to return to school.
Why can’t we know the vaccination status of our child(ren)’s teacher and other staff in the building?
Like other health information, vaccination status is private health information and cannot be shared with others. Staff were given the opportunity to share vaccination status with the health office if they wanted to; however, it was not a requirement. Sharing the vaccination status outside of the health office would jeopardize both the integrity and trust that staff have that their medical information will be kept private.
How do we monitor the illnesses within our school?
The Health Office follows up daily on all students who are absent with flu and COVID-19 symptoms.
Would we go back to full-time masking at any time?
Yes, if data within our school community warrants a change in protocols to temporarily return to masking, we would do so. We will continue to review our protocols, and if we determine they are no longer successful, we will adjust as needed.
What will the next phase be?
Anticipating the release of the vaccine for 5-11 year olds in early November, we are meeting as a leadership and task force group on November 15 to discuss the next phase.
Do I have to quarantine if exposed?
According to MDH guidance:
- No, if vaccinated
- All unvaccinated individuals within the home will need to quarantine for 14 full days starting once the positive individual is out of their 10 day isolation.
Other One Time Exposure:
- No, if vaccinated
- All unvaccinated individuals or those unable to share vaccine status will need to quarantine for 7 days and produce a negative test or quarantine for 10 days. If symptomatic, 14 full days of quarantine are needed.
More details can be found here or by contacting the health office: MDH Close Contacts and Tracing: COVID-19 and Best Practice Recommendations for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools for the 2021-22 School Year
Will students and staff be required to continue masking if they are not vaccinated and for how long?
At this time, it is an expectation that students and staff who are not vaccinated continue to mask at all times. When families have had the opportunity for vaccination of children ages 5-11, we will revisit this policy to determine an appropriate and safe timeline for lifting the masking requirements. Because vaccination status is considered private health information, we are trusting that our staff and students who are not eligible to unmask will follow this expectation.
We will continue to monitor the case rate in our school and local community as well as other metrics to determine if additional phases of mask removal may be possible.
I would like to have a test on hand at home just in case my child becomes sick and needs to get tested. Is this possible?
No, in order to ensure that tests are available for students when they are symptomatic, we are only handing them out as needed. Also, the tests have a short shelf life, so we do not want expired tests sitting around at home not being used.
My child tested negative for COVID after being sick, when are they able to return to school?
They are able to return to school 24 hours after their symptoms start to improve, and/or 24 hours after their last fever without taking medication to prevent fevers. Please let the health office know of your negative result so if questions come up, they can verify that your child is cleared to return to school.
My child was in a grade that had a positive COVID case. Am I able to pick up a test, so I can test my child just to be safe?
No. The tests available for pick up at school are reserved for symptomatic students. If used on asymptomatic individuals, there is a higher rate of false negatives.
Will you accept a negative result from the test we pick up at school?
As long as your child is not getting sicker and symptoms are improving, we will accept a negative rapid test that you pick up at school. If you test your child, get a negative, and symptoms persist or worsen, there is a second test in the kit to use 36 hours after the initial test. In these instances, the health office may also recommend getting a PCR test which is a more sensitive test.
My child tested positive on the rapid test, but then got a negative test a few days later. Are they able to return to school before the original isolation period ends?
No. A positive test is a positive test no matter what kind of test it is. You can not test out of isolation by getting a test later on. Isolation following a positive test is for 10 full days after symptoms develop or the positive test is administered. The health office will assist with return to school dates.