What COVID-19 case levels will bring mitigation measures? At Perham Schools, the plan is to add masking depending on transmission levels at the schools. The plan is not a mask mandate.

The plan outlines how case numbers would move individual school buildings through recommendations, requests and requirements of face coverings for students and staff. The moves are based on the number of positive COVID-19 cases at that specific school. The transmission levels are percentages based on the number of cases out of the total number of students and staff at the elementary (733), middle (571) and high schools (586).

Perham-Dent school board members approved a mitigation matrix for the 2021-22 school year on Sept. 28, 2021. The matrix shows when masking changes would come based on the percentage of positive COVID-19 cases at each school. 
Contributed / Perham-Dent School District
Perham-Dent school board members approved a mitigation matrix for the 2021-22 school year on Sept. 28, 2021. The matrix shows when masking changes would come based on the percentage of positive COVID-19 cases at each school. Contributed / Perham-Dent School District

For transmission levels below 1%, face coverings would be recommended for students and staff. At Heart of the Lakes Elementary, 22 students and staff with positive tests would start a face covering requirement, with 17 for Prairie Wind Middle School and the high school. The requirement would be removed after 14 days if the transmission level is below 3%. During the 2020-21 school year, the high school did not have more than 12 cases at a time, according to Superintendent Mitch Anderson.

A class will have online learning for 10 days at the preschool to sixth grade levels if there are three positive cases in one week.

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At the 5% level, face coverings are required and the district will discuss next steps with Otter Tail County Public Health and the Minnesota Department of Health. The 5% level is a guideline from MDH based on required influenza reporting that school districts have used over the years. Communities have also used this percentage to understand how widespread COVID-19 infection levels are and aim to have test positivity rates below 5%.

“This whole intent is to kind of provide a roadmap so people have answers to questions, and we’re not catching them by surprise on a Friday afternoon,” Anderson said. “This is kind of a middle of the road approach, it’s not a mandate that’s in place for however long until we decide. It is using our local school numbers, it’s very live and fluid.”

School districts in the area are working on similar plans to best support and protect students and staff. Both Detroit Lakes and Wadena-Deer Creek school districts have approved the mitigation plan with other lakes area schools working on their plans. The plan originated from the Anoka-Hennepin School District.

As of Sept. 27, Perham Schools reports zero seven-day active cases at the elementary, two at the middle school and nine at the high school. The active COVID-19 cases are under 1% at the elementary and middle school; this means face coverings are recommended for students and staff. At the high school, the active cases are at 1.53%, which places face coverings at the requested level.

The district’s COVID-19 dashboard on their website will be updated daily. The district also has an incident command team that started in spring 2020, which provides guidance from community members, school board members, school staff, Otter Tail County Public Health and Perham Health staff.

If a student, staff member or household member are being tested for COVID-19 or are awaiting test results, please contact Sue Seip at 218-346-6500 extension 7104 or sseip@perham.k12.mn.us.

On Sept. 28, the board also:

  • Approved the 2022 preliminary tax levy for the maximum amount. The final levy is decided in December, and many changes to the levy occur between now and December.