Testing is free and open to all, with or without symptoms
ST. PETER -- Nicollet County Health and Human Services and the Minnesota Department of Health will offer free COVID-19 testing on Tuesday, Nov. 17, at the St. Peter Community Center. Testing is free and available to anyone who wants to be tested, with or without symptoms.
The latest testing data has shown that St. Peter and the surrounding communities are a COVID-19 hotspot and the numbers are trending upward. That data, combined with upcoming holidays and colder weather, makes testing especially important. The goal is to identify cases early on so that those who are positive can isolate themselves and their contacts can quarantine. This strategy is proven to slow spread. The results of this event will also provide data to guide future efforts to combat COVID-19 and protect those who are most vulnerable to serious complications.
The Minnesota Department of Health continues to recommend asymptomatic individuals to be tested. Additionally, the CDC continues to advise that state and local health officials may continue seeking testing of asymptomatic individuals under certain circumstances to help control community spread. Testing both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals assists in helping to control community spread. While some who contract COVID-19 experience only mild or even no symptoms, all who contract the virus are contagious. Following the testing next week, local officials will consult with the Minnesota Department of Health so that mitigation strategies can be deliberately implemented.
Anyone who wants to be tested is encouraged to come, even if they don’t have symptoms of COVID-19. No insurance or identification is needed.
To avoid long lines, we encourage you to pre-register for a time slot. Visit https://www.primarybio.com/r/nicollet for more information and to sign up for an appointment.
Those who are in need of transportation to the event can call Dial-a-Ride at 888-880-4969; rides are free. We encourage individuals to call for service in advance to ensure availability.
DATE: Tuesday, November 17
TIME: Noon to 6 pm
LOCATION: St. Peter Community Center (600 S. 5th St.) - Use upper parking lot and enter in Door B
District 508 News and Notes
Testing is free and open to all, with or without symptoms
SPPS students in grades K-12 to start classes on Wednesday, Sept. 9
Classes for students in grades K-12 at Saint Peter Public Schools will begin on Wednesday, Sept. 9, after the Saint Peter School Board approved a revision to the official 2020-21 school calendar at Monday’s (Aug. 17) regular meeting.
In addition to the September 9th starting date for classes, conferences for students in grades K-12 have been set for Friday, Sept. 4, and Tuesday, Sept. 8. Families will be notified soon regarding how to schedule those conferences with each student’s homeroom teacher.
Classes were originally scheduled to begin on Monday, Aug. 31, for Saint Peter High School students and on Wednesday, Sept. 2, for students in the other three buildings. However, the current pandemic situation and guidelines from the state of Minnesota prompted moving the starting date back until after the Labor Day weekend. (Note: Kindergarten Ready students will also start on September 9th, while ECSE and School Readiness students begin on September 14th.)
“These changes will help prepare for a solid start to the school year,” Saint Peter Superintendent Bill Gronseth said. “Our staff will be teaching students both in person and through distance learning. These schedule changes will allow for ongoing opportunities for staff to plan and prepare a meaningful, engaging learning experience.”
“We are planning for a whole new learning experience for our students,” Gronseth said. “Delaying the start of school will allow staff the opportunity to receive training, plan with colleagues, prepare materials, and ensure that our year begins with a solid start.
Change to start and end times
In other action at Monday’s meeting, the board also approved a temporary change for school start and end times for all four buildings. Because of social distancing requirements for transporting students to and from school, it was recommended to the board that busing be done in two tiers. The following are the approved start and end times for each of the four main buildings:
- North Elementary and South Elementary - start at 8 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m.
- Saint Peter Middle School - start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 3:20 p.m.
- Saint Peter High School - start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 3:10 p.m.
The reason for the different end times for high school and middle school is for busing purposes. At the end of the day, buses will start at the high school before moving to the middle school to pick up those students to bring them home.
More info on hybrid model
To start the 2020-21 school year, Saint Peter Public Schools will operate under the hybrid model with students attending classes two days a week and having distance learning opportunities the other three.
“The opportunity for staff to work in-person with students twice a week will greatly enhance instruction and student success,” Gronseth said.
Students in grades K-12 will be split into two groups -- A days and B days. Students in the A days group will attend classes in their respective buildings on Mondays and Wednesdays, while the B days group will have in-school classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Friday will be a distance learning day for all K-12 students along with the other two days they do not have in-school classes.
“Our Reopening Plan leans into caution and consistency,” Gronseth said. “Being able to sustain an instructional model over time is important to students, staff, and families. We are hopeful that we will be able to sustain a hybrid model, offering students both in-person instruction and distance learning.”
To view District 508’s 2020-21 Reopening Plan, please see the following link: https://www.stpeterschools.org/about/2020-2021-covid-19-response
The Saint Peter School Board approved the district’s Reopening Plan 2020-21 at a special meeting on Monday. The plan was created by the SPPS administration team, led by Superintendent Bill Gronseth, using guidance from the State, COVID-19 data at the county level, and input from staff, parents, and community members.
“The Reopening Plan includes protocols and practices to ensure the safety of our students and staff, three different modes of instruction that can be used dependent upon the health of our community, details about transportation, food service, face coverings, and criteria for screening students and staff,” Gronseth said. “We will continue to alter and adapt the plan as we learn more or as needs change. The health and safety of our students and staff will remain a top priority.”
To determine which of the three models will be used, the district will be reviewing metrics at the county level on an ongoing basis. A calculation based on the number of new cases over a 14-day average will be used to decide which mode of instruction the district will use. The modes of instruction may change over the course of the year based on the data.
Saint Peter School District serves residents in the counties of Nicollet and Le Sueur. The data from both counties will be reviewed on an ongoing basis. Regardless of the instructional model being provided throughout the year, distance learning will be available to any families that are not able to, or choose not to, attend in person. (See chart below for specific Learning Model usage based on infection rates.)
The plan also provides information on several other COVID-19 related topics including Health Safety & Operations; Students Receiving Special Services, Student Support & Engagement; Co-Curricular Activities; Instruction; and Instructional Models: Moving Between Models. To see the complete plan please click HERE!.
Superintendent Gronseth said, “If we were making a decision today, we would be using the hybrid model for all K-12 students.” This model would provide in-person instruction for students two days per week and distance learning the other three days of a normal school week. Families may opt to choose full-time distance learning for their students. A family survey will be shared this week. The school district is likely to start with the hybrid model but could be subject to change depending upon COVID-19 infection rates which are updated on a weekly basis.
A reminder that up-to-date information on the COVID-19 situation for Saint Peter Public Schools can be found at https://www.stpeterschools.org/about/2020-2021-covid-19-response.
More info on the Hybrid Learning model
Students in each of the four main buildings (High School, Middle School, North Elementary, and South Elementary) will be assigned to one of two groups (Blue group and White group), with one group attending classes in person on Mondays and Wednesdays and the other group coming in for classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Friday will be a distance learning day for all K-12 students.
A new era for Saint Peter Public Schools began today as new Superintendent Bill Gronseth officially began his duties as the top administrator for District 508.
Gronseth, who had previously served as Superintendent for Duluth Public Schools since 2012, takes over for Jeff Olson, who served the 2019-20 school year as Interim Superintendent for Saint Peter Public Schools. A native of Duluth, Gronseth earned his master’s degree in education from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and has a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Wisconsin-Superior.
"I am thrilled to be officially serving as Superintendent for the Saint Peter Schools," Gronseth said. "Many thanks to Dr. Olson and the amazing administrative team for all of their support during the transition.
"I'm looking forward to continuing my conversations with staff, families, and students in the coming days!"
Bill and his wife Deanna, who recently moved to St. Peter, have two grown children.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services is now offering additional funds for the families of children ages 5 to 18 who qualify for free and reduced-price meals. This new program, called Pandemic EBT (P-EBT), will provide $325 per child that families can use to purchase nutritious food for their household. Families with children who received free or reduced-price meals at school, and who were between the ages of 5 and 18 on September 1, 2019, may qualify. Benefits are available to two groups:
Families receiving Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits on March 18, 2020. Benefits for these families were issued automatically and appeared on their EBT balance on May 30, 2020. These families do not need to take any further action.
Families receiving free or reduced-price school meals, but not SNAP or MFIP benefits. These families need to fill out a short application for a P-EBT card. Families can apply between June 8, 2020, and June 30, 2020. If approved, families will receive a P-EBT card in the mail, which will arrive with the funds preloaded.
Families in need of assistance accessing or using their P-EBT benefits are urged to contact the P-EBT Hotline at 651-431-4050 or 800-657-3698.
If your family or someone you know needs additional ongoing assistance accessing healthy foods, please contact your local tribal or county human services office, visit ApplyMN, or call the Minnesota Food HelpLine at 888-711-1151.