Dear Hopkins Families:
As we prepare for the opening of school, we are looking closely at the COVID-19 landscape, which changes almost daily as the Delta variant circulates through our global and local communities. This variant is nearly twice as contagious than previous strains of the virus. While we anticipate a school year that is more steady and consistent than last school year, the pandemic is still with us.
On Aug. 17, we will present our 2021-22 School Safety Plan to the Hopkins School Board. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. and will be live-streamed on our school board web page. At this meeting, our COVID-19 mitigation team will recommend that K-12+ students and all staff, regardless of vaccination status, wear face masks in indoor spaces. If the School Board approves this recommendation, face masks will be required indoors beginning August 18. We know for some families this news will be celebrated and others may feel conflicted or even frustrated.
As a system, we have an obligation to protect our youngest learners who are not yet eligible for the vaccine. We have also experienced breakthrough cases in which already vaccinated staff have contracted the Delta variant. Finally, consistent mask wearing will lessen the requirement for students to quarantine; new guidance does not require entire classrooms to quarantine after exposure so long as a mask wearing protocol has been followed. For these reasons, universal mask wearing is not only the safest option, it is the least disruptive option to our system and to our students’ in-person learning. We recognize that for some families masking is not the right choice. We will consider and allow opt outs through a formal exception process.
Many of us are experiencing COVID-19 fatigue, and although no one knows for sure what is ahead, we hope to end the school year mask-free. When our 12 and under population become eligible for and receive the vaccine, we may be able to shift our mask policy and other mitigation measures. Because vaccines are the strongest tool in our toolkit to end COVID, we respectfully encourage all families to get eligible family members vaccinated. You can find more information on how to access free vaccinations here. As an extra incentive, the Minnesota Department of Health is currently offering $100 to anyone who gets vaccinated.
Important Back-to-School Updates
- School Bus Transportation Survey - Please Respond by Aug. 12.
On Friday, Aug. 6, you should have received an email survey asking about your transportation needs. Hopkins Public Schools is asking all families to complete this survey, whether you need bus transportation or not, so we have an accurate count for our buses. If your child needs transportation this year, it is very important that you fill out this survey as your child may not be assigned a bus without this information. If you did not receive the survey, please contact Schoolbus@HopkinsSchools.org or complete the online transportation form on our website. The deadline to opt into transportation is Aug. 12.
- Hopkins Online Royal Academy is now enrolling!
Register by Aug. 15 Hopkins Public Schools is opening an Online Royal Academy as a permanent education option for K-12 scholars. Families can enroll for one semester or the entire year. Enrollment commitments are due Aug. 15. Learn more about the Online Royal Academy or enroll at this link.
- Back-to-School Important Dates
August 30: First day of school for grades 1-7, 10
August 31: First day of school for kindergarten and grades 8, 9, 11, 12
Please visit your school’s website to find information on open houses, kindergarten playground nights and other back-to-school events.
Next week, look for a comprehensive communication that includes more detailed information about Covid-19 mitigation measures, an introduction to our new transportation company, our 2021-22 calendar, school nutrition, policies, and other relevant back-to-school information we hope will be useful to our E-12+ families.
We are so excited to welcome our students, staff and families back to school for a fresh start to what we know will be a transformational learning experience.
Be well, stay safe.
Dr. Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed
Superintendent of Schools