SARTELL -- Sartell-St. Stephen Superintendent Jeff Ridlehoover says the decision to make mask wearing optional for students and staff had been talked about for several months.

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He says after seeing a spike following the Christmas break, COVID numbers throughout the district have dropped to some of the lowest levels in some time.

The time we saw our last data about a week ago, the positive case count within our school's wasn't zero, but within single digits for sure.

Ridlehoover says they still have the ability to implement a mask mandate again if case counts rise again.

He says they plan to continue updating their COVID Dashboard on the district's website through the end of the school year. Ridlehoover says if things continue to trend in the right direction, they hope to phase that out as well.

As of Thursday, Sartell has reported 31 students and six staff members who have tested positive for COVID.

Ridlehoover says he was appreciative and thankful for everyone who attended their Listening Session earlier this week.

The monthly listening sessions highlight the progress accomplished by the Educational Equity and Student Experience Committee and allows residents to ask questions and provide input.

Ridlehoover says he anticipates the committee needing a few more months to develop and finalize the actions steps surrounding their top priorities.

Being there are 34 priorities, with about 1-3 actions steps each, this is not something that is going to get done overnight. I want to caution people that there is a lot of work to be done in several areas. We are going to look at which areas to address first and then areas we will need further conversation with students, staff and community at large.

Ridlehoover says once those actions steps have been finalized they plan to present them to the school board.

He says they remain dedicated to making this process as transparent as possible, which is why all the information, notes and discussions can be found on the district's website.

The district's equity committee will make again on March 7th.


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