St. Paul’s public schools are canceling in-person events again this spring as the district tries to control the spread of the coronavirus, according to an internal email.
Year-end concerts, plays and gatherings will not take place, not even outdoors, Highland Park High School principal Winston Tucker told his staff in an email on Saturday, relaying information about a Friday meeting of school district principals.
“Obviously this is due to Covid and the need to minimize exposure,” he wrote.
The message did not deal with the graduation ceremony. However, the district previously said in-person launch ceremonies will be held in June, albeit in smaller groups than usual and with social distancing and masks required.
District spokesman Kevin Burns said Monday he had no information to share about the decision.
The district has not publicly announced the cancellation of events in person, but parents are already pushing back.
Sue Gustad, a theater host at Highland Park and mother of a senior student, said the district was making the decision “easy and arbitrary.” She is frustrated that they do not give groups the opportunity to explain how they can mitigate the risk of the disease spreading during the events.
“I’m not saying everything is moving forward,” she said. “It’s about taking the attitude of how can we move forward with the COVID protocols that are state-approved in place and give the kids something a year old.”
School sports teams will continue to compete, Tucker wrote, as they are governed by the Minnesota State High School League.
Gustad said she didn’t see the logic behind the move.
“When the district seems to stand up for sport and nothing else, it just seems like they’re sending the message that kids who aren’t athletes don’t matter,” she said.
Gustad said his daughter and others would miss the prom, senior awards ceremonies and senior parties at their schools.
“It’s going to turn out badly with the students,” she said.
After 13 months of distance learning, most of the college and high school students in St. Paul returned to their schools for in-person classes on April 14.
The district of Saint-Paul has not yet had a coronavirus epidemic while the school was in session. However, much of the recent coronavirus cases in Minnesota involve school-aged children, and state health officials have expressed concern about outbreaks among youth sports teams.
Current health guidelines generally limit large indoor events to a maximum capacity of 50%, and customers and workers are required to keep six feet apart and wear a face mask unless eating or drinking.
THE SHOWS GO ELSEWHERE
Neighboring school districts are taking a more liberal approach to in-person events this spring.
Anoka-Hennepin, the largest in the state, hosts balls that meet state health guidelines, spokesman Jim Skelly said. They also allow for in-person events in smaller groups than usual, including concerts, plays, and senior awards ceremonies.
“The district has made it a goal to host as many in-person events as possible for students and families this spring,” Skelly said, adding that a disease mitigation plan was in place for each event. .
Likewise, Mounds View hosts a variety of in-person events on the advice of the state.
North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale will have an in-person ball, senior plays and awards, and outdoor graduation ceremonies, but a spokesperson was unaware of the status of the concerts.
Schools in Southern Washington County have already hosted balls and other in-person events this spring and will continue to do so following state guidelines for major events, spokesman Pepe Barton said. Some activities are taking place outdoors this year.