WORTHINGTON — By recommendation of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), Independent School District 518 continues with classes and activities for students.

This does not mean, however, that it is business as usual. Many precautions have been taken and up to date information is always being gathered, utilized, and provided for students, staff and families. ISD 518 is confident in not only the decisions being made by the entities listed above, but also in the preparedness of the district in the case of any number of crisis situations.

District 518 serves over 3,400 students, employs over 600 staff members and serves hundreds of community members through community education programs on a daily basis. Having a plan in case of crisis situations is not only a responsibility taken very seriously by the district, but also a state law. The Crisis Management Plan for District 518 can be viewed on the ISD 518 website on the District Office page. This plan outlines responses for many different crisis situations ranging from a medical emergency, to a disease outbreak, to the more commonly drilled scenarios of fire and severe weather warnings.

The Crisis Management Plan is reviewed and approved frequently as recommended procedures change and as new crisis situations become more prevalent. It is imperative that District 518 remains prepared in the case of any situation that may cause a disturbance to students and/or staff from minor situations to occurences on some of the largest scales possible.

This plan was recently reworked and updated from top to bottom by staff from across the district to ensure proper, up-to-date information that would be critical in a crisis. Some of this information includes lists of emergency contacts and how to reach them in a large variety of ways, what roles are assigned to what positions in a crisis situation, as well as information on how to heal as a district and as a community once the crisis has been overcome. This large-scale update was then reviewed and approved by the school board.

Due to data privacy laws and concerns, the publicly available crisis plan on the district website has had some items edited out of the document. Staff members at ISD 518 are given access to the full Crisis Management Plan at the beginning of the school so that they may review the procedures and be prepared for any situation that may arise. This level of preparedness is what allows ISD 518 to continue on with operations as per the recommendation of the CDC, MDH and MDE.

When dealing with matters related to the coronavirus (COVID-19), the district refers back to the official documentations and recommendations of these agencies. Currently, the recommendation for all school districts in Minnesota is to continue with classes and activities. Decisions concerning the postponement of activities and the cancelling of classes are to be made in conjunctions with the CDC, MDH and MDE. The expertise and analysis of those entities will be employed should a decision need to be made.

The recommendations for all Minnesotans and those around the world continue to be to regularly and thoroughly wash your hands, use hand sanitizer when washing hands is not an option, cover coughs by utilizing options other than your hands and to stay home if you are feeling ill. Fever, frequent coughing and frequent shortness of breath are all symptoms that lead to the recommendation to stay home. In these ways, we can all do our part in preventing the spread of not only coronavirus (COVID-19), but all contagious diseases that regularly make their rounds in flu season.

Please know that Independent School District 518 is keeping track of the situation concerning the coronavirus (COVID-19). Also know that should illness or any other crisis affect District 518, plans have been made and there are protocols to help control the situation. Preparedness is key to excellence. District 518 has prepared for a wide range of disturbances and feels equipped to deal with the times ahead.

Parker Sandhurst is District 518's communications coordinator.