LAKE CITY --The Minnesota Department of Health developed a general notification letter that school districts can send in the event of a COVID-19 case. The letter would go to all families and staff, not just those identified as having close-contact exposure.

On Saturday, Lake City Public Schools put that letter to use.

The district notified families that the Bluff View Elementary campus had a lab-confirmed case and potential exposure Sept. 8 and 9. Noteworthy is the fact that classes didn’t begin until Sept. 10, so there was little risk. But because some people were in and out of the building for conferences and other reasons that Tuesday and Wednesday, district officials chose full and open communication.

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“We chose to notify all of our families that have students enrolled at this campus about this incident,” Superintendent Erick Enger said Monday, Sept. 14. That's an MDH recommendation.

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School was in session Monday and no interruption is anticipated due to this case.

“The risk of exposure for other individuals present in the building on these dates is no greater than the risk of contracting the virus in the general community,” Principal Jim Borgschatz wrote in the letter.

The district, which straddles Goodhue and Wabasha counties, worked with both local public health departments as well as the state to investigate if anyone had close contact with the infected person. They found no one.

The Minnesota Department of Health defines a close contact as anyone who was within six feet of the person who is sick while they were considered to be infectious, for 15 minutes or more -- regardless of whether either person wore a mask or face shield.

If there had been close contact, the district would have communicated directly with those individuals and had them quarantine.

“The school nurse told me no such additional notification letters were necessary,” Enger said.

The general letter that the district sent provided information about the situation, links to COVID-19 resources and what to do if a household member develops symptoms. Namely, they should stay home for at least 10 days, consult with a physician and be fever-free for 24 hours before returning to school or work.

When there is a case, MDH’s recommendations for schools include:

  • Sending notifications to staff and families to alert them of a lab-confirmed case of COVID-19.

  • Identifying close contacts. If there are any, have those people stay home for 14 days.

  • Closing a classroom, school building or district -- in consultation with the state -- depending on the extent of exposure and the risk of ongoing transmission.

Those bigger steps weren’t needed. The district did, however, complete all cleaning and disinfection steps.

“You just follow the steps, they tell you what to do,” Enger said. “We followed the process.”

COVID-19 resources

These are resources people might find helpful, Lake City Public Schools' letter to families and staff said:

• MDH Coronavirus: www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/index.html

• MDH If You Are Sick: www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/sick.html

• CDC Coronavirus: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html