WORTHINGTON As we enter the home stretch of the 2020-2021 school year, it is important that the entire Independent School District 518 community continues to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines. District 518 is pleased to be offering full-time in-person instruction for all students, but this learning model is contingent on healthy students, staff and community members. Please help us achieve excellence in education by keeping yourself and our community safe.

In the past weeks, Minnesota has seen a surge in cases of COVID-19. This comes alongside the positive side of an increase in vaccine doses administered. Responsible testing and reporting, vaccination and prevention practices are all key to the success of students in ISD 518. To help the district reach important milestones such as prom and graduation using a full in-person leaning model, please follow guidelines as offered by the Minnesota Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control.

A critically important aspect of dealing with COVID-19 is staying home when you are sick. To protect the health of others, if showing any symptoms of COVID-19, please stay home. If your student is showing any symptoms of COVID-19, please keep them home and call their school to inform District 518 of the situation. If a student attends classes in-person before they are confirmed positive for COVID-19, the health of students and staff may be endangered. It also causes a large population of students and staff to require self-isolation, preventing them from attending classes in person.

Vaccines are available to all Minnesotans 16 or older. To sign up and be informed when a vaccination appointment is available for you, please use the Vaccine Connector website available through the State of Minnesota. This portal will sign you up to a waiting list. You will then be informed when an appointment for a vaccine is available for you. For more information, see the Minnesota Vaccine Connector website at www.vaccineconnector.mn.gov.

Prevention of the spread of COVID-19 remains critically important, especially in all public spaces. Proper face masking by covering your mouth and nose with a snug, comfortable mask is a proven effective way to limit the spread of COVID-19. Face masks are required at all times within ISD 518 facilities. This is just one of the many practices that the district has adopted to create the safest and most effective learning environment possible for all students. These practices have allowed ISD 518 to return to full-time in-person learning February, and the district strives to keep this learning method in place by continuing thorough safety measures.

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Please help ISD 518 to serve our students by staying home when you are sick, signing up for a COVID-19 vaccination appointment through the Vaccine Connector portal and practicing prevention techniques such as proper face masking. It is only with the help of the entire District 518 community that is able to teach students in a full-time in-person environment. It the goal of the district to continue in this learning model through important milestones such as prom and graduation. This learning model is, however, dependent on student, staff and community health. Please keep our students healthy, safe and in school.

Parker Sandhurst is District 518's communications coordinator.