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

    CHPS has emphasized many mitigation strategies throughout this pandemic, including mask requirements, quarantining for close contact and isolation for positive cases, vaccinations for people ages five and older, onsite testing, improved ventilation, and encouraging people to stay home if they aren’t feeling well. Because of the decline in cases and the updated guidance of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), began on April 4, 2022, the wearing of face coverings and masks is recommended and optional for students in Kindergarten through grade 12. 

    Early Childhood

    Because children ages 4 and under do not yet have access to a COVID-19 vaccine, masks and face coverings will continue to be required inside buildings and in a classroom, in all Early Childhood programs until further notice. Early Childhood Programs include: PreK 4, PreK 3, Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE), Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE), Early Childhood Screening, and Mini Adventures. 


    Staff will be required to wear a mask or face covering in Early Childhood classrooms and when instructing Early Childhood students. Masks and face coverings will be recommended and optional for staff who are not inside an Early Childhood classroom. 

    Activities and Athletics

    Masks and face coverings will be recommended and optional for participants, visitors, staff and others attending activities and athletic events. Masks and face coverings will continue to be required indoors for those ages 3 and 4 at activities and athletic events. 


    Masks and face coverings will be recommended and optional on school transportation, including buses and vans for students in Kindergarten through grade 12. Early Childhood students will be required to continue to wear masks or face coverings on buses or vans until further notice.

    Parents, Caregivers and Visitors

    Masks and face coverings will be recommended and optional for parents, caregivers and visitors to Columbia Heights Public Schools, and required when inside Early Childhood classrooms. 

    Additional Information

    • CHPS will continue to follow the district’s protocol regarding isolation and quarantine for students and staff. 
    • Staff suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 are handled by the Department of Human Resources. 
    • Student COVID-19 cases are handled by school nurses and the District COVID Coordinator. 
    • The District will continue to follow quarantine protocols. Please contact your school nurse to report a positive case or with questions. 
    • Fully vaccinated people and those who have had COVID-19 within the past 90-days are not recommended to quarantine in most situations.
    • Do not send a sick child to school. 
    • Masks will continue to be available in each building for students, staff and visitors.

    What is the future of mask wearing? 

    CHPS will continue to follow guidance from public health officials and state agencies. While we are currently experiencing a decline in COVID, a surge in cases may mean that masking could once again be required. 

    The change in the mask requirement began April 4, 2022. We will continue to monitor COVID-19 data in our schools and community and consult with local health officials. CHPS encourages our students, families, staff and the community to continue to practice mitigation strategies, including vaccinations and mask wearing to help us stay Healthy Hylanders!

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 when possible in school facilities.
    • Nonessential visitors, volunteers, and activities involving external groups or organizations will be limited.
    • Safety signage throughout the building will reinforce protocols (hand washing, physical distancing)
    • 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. 
    • 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.


    • Students and drivers are recommended to wear face coverings on the bus at all times.
    • 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. 
    • PreK 4-Grade 8: Breakfast will be eaten in classrooms. Schools may make adjustments to the location of breakfast for students.
    • Grades PreK 4- Grade 12: Lunch will be eaten in cafeteria for maximizing physical distance and precautions for allergies. Schools may make adjustments to the location of lunch for students.
    • Meal purchases will be made using a touch-free system.
    • 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.

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 tests.  
    • There is also a COVID-19 quarantine guidance document developed to assist in determining staff that need to quarantine.
    • A 5-day quarantine for staff may be possible depending on specific factors. Lindsey Bennett, Director of Human Resources, oversees this determination.  
    • 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.

    MDH has provided updated guidance as it relates to quarantine for close contacts and for those experiencing COVID symptoms. CHPS will begin following this update guidance on Monday, April 4th to coincide with the updated mask policy. CHPS will continue to rely on the school nursing staff to assist with following the updated guidance from their medical lens and medical expertise. Below is the specific quarantine and isolation guidance from MDH.

    Updated MDH Guidance on Quarantine and Isolation

    Throughout the pandemic, the Minnesota Department of Health's (MDH) Recommended COVID-19 Decision Tree for Schools, Youth Programs, and Child Care Programs has helped determine when to direct children, families, and staff to isolate and/or quarantine. This tool has been under review and was retired this week. It has been replaced with a Guide for Isolation and a Guide for Quarantine for schools, child care and youth programming. Each guide provides best practice recommendations for isolation and quarantine in alignment with CDC guidance. The updated guides are posted on the MDH Schools and Child Care page. You can also visit If You Are Sick or Test Positive and Close Contacts and Quarantine for more information on isolation and quarantine. MDH remains available to support your questions by email at


  • All students, guardians and staff should not come on-site if exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms

    • 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.
    • Unvaccinated 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. Vaccinated students who have been in close contact with someone who was diagnosed or suspected to have COVID-19 within the last 14 days should monitor for symptoms and should test. 
    • 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/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

  • Vaccination of staff, families and students ages 12+ are strongly encouraged. CHPS will continue to promote local vaccination clinics to our community as they are made available. Vaccination Clinics located in Anoka County can be found here:  Anoka County Vaccination Opportunities

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 during the 2021-2022 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.