Safe Return to In-Person Learning Plan

  • Columbia Heights Public School District’s Safe Return to In-Person Learning Plan will be updated following the guidance of the Minnesota Safe Learning Plan, all executive orders, and current guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

    Columbia Heights Public Schools is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment. This operational plan identifies practices and protocols to help ensure a safe and healthy learning environment and to help mitigate the transmission of COVID-19.

Face Coverings

  • View the CHPS Face Mask School Board Policy

    The District will continue to monitor local COVID case rates, CDC and state guidance throughout the summer, and will adjust the guidance accordingly. 

    • Required on school buses for all students and drivers (Wearing of face masks while on conveyances and at transportation hubs | Quarantine | CDC)
    • At School:
      • Childcare: Strongly recommended for all adults and required for students indoors.
      • Elementary: Required for students indoors, strongly recommended for staff (Student age group currently not eligible for vaccine.)
      • Secondary: Strongly recommended for staff and students indoors
    • Masks are NOT required outside at recess or outdoors

Social Distancing

  • Social distancing (also called physical distancing) means keeping space between yourself and other people outside of your home. Social distancing is a critical tool in decreasing the spread of COVID-19. Here are things we will be doing:

    • Ensuring sufficient social distancing with at least three (3) feet between people at all times when in school facilities.
    • No large group gatherings or events.
    • Limit the number of people in school facilities and on transportation vehicles to 50% maximum occupancy.
    • Nonessential visitors, volunteers, and activities involving external groups or organizations will be restricted.
    • Implement contactless pick up and/or delivery of meals and school materials for days that students and staff are not in the school building.
    • Entrances and exits will be modified as necessary to regulate traffic flow and access.
    • Hallways will be made one way to create traffic flow patterns that maximize physical distancing. 
    • Classroom and school schedules will limit physical interactions beyond a student’s classroom and team. 
    • Floor markings will reinforce physical distancing requirements in waiting areas. 
    • Student seating will be arranged to ensure there is at least 6 feet between students.
    • Safety signage throughout the building will reinforce protocols (hand washing, physical distancing)
    • Drinking water will be available through filling stations (water bottles to come from home) and single use cups; No drinking fountains will be available.
    • Learning and other activities will take place outside as appropriate.  

Hygiene Practices

  • CHPS will support proper hygiene practices to help mitigate the transmission of COVID-19. These practices and protocols include:

    • Hand sanitizer is available throughout the buildings.
    • Hand washing and/or sanitizing is required upon arrival at school, before and after meals, before and after recess and throughout the day.
    • Hand Washing with soap and water is taught and sanitation breaks are included throughout the students' school day as part of their daily schedule. 
    • A daily schedule for routine environmental cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces in classrooms and common spaces is established when staff and students are not occupying the space. 

Transportation | Food Services | Facilities

  • Guidance will be updated as needed to align with federal, state, and local guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.


    • Buses will transport students at 50 percent capacity.
    • Students and drivers will wear face coverings on the ride. Drivers will reinforce expectations verbally and involve school administration if there is an issue with compliance.
    • All riders will maintain 6 feet of distance from the bus driver.
    • Seating charts will be used; Students from the same household may sit together.
    • Loading and unloading procedures will maximize physical distancing to the greatest extent possible; School loading and unloading zones may be reconfigured to accommodate distancing requirements and additional parent drop off/pick up.
    • Buses will be cleaned and disinfected between routes.
    • Windows will be open, as weather permits, and ventilation systems maximized to promote air flow throughout the bus.

    Food Services

    • Breakfast and lunch will be available to students when they are at school. There will be added precautions when eating at school in a Full Hybrid model:
    • PreK 4-Grade 4: Meals will be eaten in classrooms.
    • Grades 5-12: Meals will be eaten in classrooms or cafeteria with designated cohorts/pods and protocols for maximizing physical distance and precautions for allergies.
    • Meal purchases will be made using a touch-free system.
    • Meals will be individually plated/packaged; there will be no self-serve food stations.
    • Meals will be available for at home learning days.
    • Meal distribution will also be available for any student doing full-time distance learning.
    • Free and reduced lunch applications have been mailed to district families and can also be completed online.

    Facilities | Cleaning and Ventilation

    • Enhanced cleaning protocols follow recommendations from the Minnesota Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    • At routine times throughout the school day, there will be cleaning/disinfecting of highly touched surfaces, including student desks/chairs, door handles, light switches, counters and faucets.
    • Cleaning will include, but is not limited to, before and after lunch, anytime a class grouping is going to switch classroom spaces, and at the end of the school day.
    • Each evening, there will be additional cleaning of floors and disinfecting of communal spaces.  
    • Building ventilation in our school buildings meets Indoor Air Quality standards
    • NO VISITORS unless pre-approved by the building principal.

Handling of Suspected or Confirmed Positive Cases of COVID-19

  • Staff suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 are handled by the Department of Human Resources.

    • Human Resources has a checklist and spreadsheet for exposures and positive COVID-19 test.  
    • There is also a COVID-19  quarantine guidance document developed to assist in determining staff that need to quarantine.  
    • The Minnesota Department of Health is contacted with questions and reported via the online form as required. 

    Student suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 are handled by the Special Education Department.

    • Suspected Student Case with symptoms or close contact:
      • The student will be sent to the health office where the school nurse will work with the District COVID-19 Coordinator and will use guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health to determine next steps, including if the student needs to be isolated and excluded from school.
      •  If isolation is required, the student will go to the designated triage room, which is a designated  space in each school building, and continue to wear their face mask until a guardian is able to pick them up. Siblings will also be considered as a part of the screening process and may be subject to any need for isolation. The school will provide families resources and guidance regarding COVID-19 testing and the length of time the student will need to stay out of school. The family will work with the school nurse on any plans for the student to return.
    • Quarantine
      • Students and staff who test positive for COVID-19 will need to continue to quarantine for 10 days and can return when fever free for at least 24 hours (without the use of fever reducers) and symptoms improving.
      • Those exposed to a positive COVID case are recommended to quarantine for 14 days, but if the student/staff gets a test at least five (5) FULL days after exposure and tests negative (shows results) with a PCR test AND has no symptoms they can return to school on day 11 (day 0 being date of exposure). If the student/staff lives with someone who has a positive COVID test, they are NOT eligible for a shortened quarantine.
      • View the Minnesota Department of Health’s Decision Tree for People with COVID-19 Symptoms.
      • We will partner with the Minnesota Department of Health on any positive confirmed cases of COVID-19 and they will guide us on the notification process to ensure individual health privacy.
    • Notification of Cases
      • Generally, the school or District will communicate with any individuals/families of individuals who had contact with any positive case as recommended and directed by MDH.
      • Notifications of exposure and notifications with direction to self-isolate will include recommendations from MDH for next steps.
      • Notification scope depends on the breadth of exposure and interaction with others.
      • Elementary (K-4) – Families of the entire classroom group; all staff that worked directly with students or staff that tested positive and building and district leaders.
      • Intermediate/Middle School and High School – Families of the impacted learning team, families of other students that may have been in elective classes with the student of staff that tested positive; all staff that worked directly with the student of staff that tested positive and building and district leadership.


  • All students/guardians and staff must complete a daily health screening at home prior to coming on-site:

    • Students must be healthy and symptom free for the last 10 days and have a temperature under 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
      • Symptoms of COVID-19 may include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, congestion or runny nose, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
    • Students who have been in close contact with someone who was diagnosed or suspected to have COVID-19 within the last 14 days cannot attend.
    • Students who appear ill may be removed from school. Returning to the school will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
    • If a student is diagnosed or presumed positive for COVID-19, please contact your site immediately.
    • Stay home if there are any COVID-19 symptoms.
    • Report symptoms to the school.
    • Students will use designated triage  areas to wait for a ride home if symptoms develop during the day.
    • Students/Families and staff are to notify the school if they have been directed to self-isolate or quarantine.

    View the Minnesota Department of Health’s Decision Tree for People with COVID-19 Symptoms.

Vaccination Opportunities

  • In the spring of 2021, CHPS -- in partnership with Anoka County -- hosted a vaccine clinic for students and community members ages 12 and older to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Over 400 community members participated including over 190 students 12 years and older. We are continuing to partner with Anoka County and Neighborhood HealthSource in developing both vaccine clinics for fall 2021. 

    CHPS will continue to promote local vaccination clinics to our community as they are made available. 

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

  • Accommodations for students with disabilities will be made to ensure students are receiving a Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). Should a student's health preclude them from accessing their classroom, the IEP team will meet to develop a plan that will ensure students health and safety and progress on their IEP goals and objectives. 

Mental Health & Wellness

  • CHPS developed a Resource Hub to provide access to meal/food resources, family resources, health resources and community resources. The resources in the community area covers crisis, housing/shelter, food, mental health support and direct contact information to the CHPS Student Support Team. 

    Furthermore, the CHPS Student Support Team is working with students who have a need for emotional support over the summer and into the 2021 school year. Additionally, the CHPS Student Support Team developed a Virtual Calm Zone that is a space for students, families, and staff to explore tools and strategies that can help manage stress and emotions.  

    During the 2021-2022 school year, CHPS is partnering with Allina Health Clinic and the Prairie Care Fund to develop Change to Chill spaces to meet students' needs and to learn strategies to respond to students who may be exhibiting mental health crisis. The tools and resources taught to assist students in managing stress and anxiety will help them build greater resilience. 

Coordination with State and Local Health Officials

  • CHPS confers and coordinates with Anoka County Public Health and the MN State Departments on COVID related issues and guidance.  

    CHPS will work with the Minnesota Department of Health on any positive confirmed cases of COVID-19 and follow their direction for contact tracing, notification and other critical actions. 

    Exposure is defined as being near a COVID-19 positive person closer than 6 feet for 15 minutes or longer. Working with MDH, school or district staff will notify students/families and/or staff if they have been exposed and need to stay home.

    The District is following guidance from MDH and from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). As guidance from MDH and the CDC changes so will our policies and procedures.

Continuity of Services

  • CHPS conducted multiple meetings and surveys to gather stakeholder input about needs and supports. Through these meetings, CHPS developed the Heighten Up plan to address students’ academic needs and students’ and staff social emotional, mental health, and other needs including technology. View the COVID-19 resource page.

Child Care for Critical Workers

  • CHPS will provide care for children of critical care workers during the school year if the District returns to distance learning based on the guidance of the Minnesota Department of Education. This critical child care will ensure continuity of services, including but not limited to services to address students' academic needs and students' and staff social, emotional, mental health, and other needs, which may include student health and food services.