Albert Lea schools to remain open next week

Published 2:53 pm Friday, March 13, 2020

Albert Lea Area Schools and other school districts across the state will stay open next week, according to announcements Friday afternoon.

A statement posted on the district’s website said the district is taking guidance from the Minnesota health and education departments, as well as Freeborn County Public Health.

“This plan for addressing any coronavirus (COVID-19) incident is intended to serve the best interests of students, employees and families in the remote event of an incidence or threat of coronavirus infecting an Albert Lea student, employee, volunteer or family member of any of them,” the district stated.

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While the district plans to have support of the Minnesota Department of Health and Freeborn County Public Health in dealing with a coronavirus incident, the district will react “swiftly and decisively to assure the good health and safety of those individuals if a crisis occurs.”

“This plan can be implemented whether one school is closed, more than one school is closed or all schools in the district are closed,” the statement said. “It is hard to know which scenario could occur — if any of them actually happen.”

The district will closely monitor health conditions of students and employees while in school to detect potential for the presence of an infectious illness. The district is also requesting immediate notification of any family member who exhibits serious symptoms that could impact students or staff.

If a coronavirus case is found in someone with ties to the school, there would be an immediate effort to identify social interactions of any infected people related to the school. The Department of Health would take the lead in this effort and advise the district about steps to be taken.

If the coronavirus is first discovered at school, the district will take control of the situation until the Department of Health can intervene.

With the district coming off of spring break next week, the district plans to be especially vigilant in prevention protocols and cleaning measures.

The statement said the district already does regular cleaning and disinfecting, but that will be accelerated in common spaces and classrooms. Teachers will provide regular access to disinfecting cleaning wipes for students.

In case the district or the Department of Health decides to close one school or all schools in the district, instruction for all students will be provided through eLearning devices.

The statement said working conditions for employees may need to be altered, and employees will be informed if this needs to take place. Requirements will vary depending on the nature of school closures.

“If there were a modified plan by the Department of Health whereby just some students were quarantined, there would be a new plan developed to meet the special conditions of the department’s expectations,” the district said.

The district is postponing large gathering events scheduled for the remainder of March and early April. Students will be allowed to participate in athletic and activity practices following guidance from the Minnesota State High School League.

The statement said Community Education programs will continue as scheduled unless the district cancels programming.

The district encouraged parents to contact their school with educational questions or rumors about the illness possibly being in Albert Lea.

Parents concerned about the virus itself should contact the Minnesota Department of Health hotline at 651-201-5414 or check the Freeborn County Public Health resources online.


Albert Lea Area Schools events to be postponed
• Tigers Roar
• Wall of Inspiration
• Senior dinner and dance
• Elementary fun nights
• Music concerts at all levels
• NHS blood drive
• RCC Career Day
• Southwest Middle School spring play
• Prairie Fire Theatre
• National Honor Society field day