Region 7 Regional Support Team

Resource Training & Solutions Regional Support Team

In the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19 in your school building, learning plan concerns, or other school-related COVID-19 concerns please contact the regional support coordinator for the primary county your school is located in.

Chisago, Isanti, Meeker, Sherburne, and Wright County

Michelle Wang - Regional Support Coordinator

(320) 255-3236 ext. 317

Benton, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Pine, and Stearns County

Scott Fitzsimonds - Regional Support Coordinator

(612) 851-6400

Regional Support Teams

The Regional Support Teams are a partnership between local public health officials, MDE, MDH, and regional service cooperatives to support school districts and charter schools in navigating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the 2020-21 school year. 

Beginning August 24, 2020, school districts and charter schools will work with Regional Support Teams to consult regarding implementation and ongoing evaluation of their learning model. 

Team Structure

Regional Support Teams are structured in a way that allows efficient communication from the school and district level to the state level in the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a school building. 

The first step in this process is for a superintendent or charter school leader to contact their assigned service cooperative lead. The lead will then contact MDH and/or local public health officials to begin the response process, who will notify the Regional Support Team regarding appropriate next steps. The Regional Support Teams are made up of rapid response staff, health consultants, and testing event planners.

Rapid Response

State lead to direct and oversee the response to districts and schools:

  • Coordination across state supports and regional service cooperatives.
  • Works with State Testing Workgroup, oversees school testing event team.
  • 3-4 school testing staff who help execute events when local communities need support.

Leads from regional service cooperatives (9):

  • Main point of contact for school districts and charter schools in the region.
  • Shares updates and information between school districts/charter schools and local public health officials, MDH, MDE and other state partners.
  • Supports schools in completing contact tracing surveys.
  • Facilitates connections with local public health officials, MDH, MDE, and other state partners as needed.

Health Consultant

  • MDH epidemiologists, assigned by region and paired with regional service cooperatives and local public health officials.
  • Connect with regional supports to help respond to health and epidemiology questions.
  • Supports state reporting and trends on COVID-19 and implications for schools.
  • Supports local and state health officials in tracking cases, testing events, and school closures.

Responding to Confirmed Cases of COVID-19

When a confirmed case of COVID-19 is identified in a school community, it is important for school districts and charter schools to work closely with local public health and MDH officials through the Regional Support Teams to identify whether the person who is ill was present on school grounds while infectious and whether that resulted in any close contact exposures among students or staff. Because of the potential for asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission of COVID-19, it is important that close contacts of students or staff with COVID-19 are quickly identified, informed of the need to quarantine at home, and encouraged to seek testing, even if they are not showing any symptoms. In general, testing of close contacts should not occur until either a person becomes symptomatic or at least 5 to 7 days have passed since their last exposure to the confirmed case to guard against a false-negative test result, which can occur when a person is tested too early in the incubation period. Even if a close contact tests negative, they must remain in quarantine for a full 14 days, as some people develop an infection at the end of their incubation period. The CDC does not recommend universal testing of all students and staff.

In addition to the identification and notification of close contacts, school districts and charter schools should consider the questions outlined below in consultation with health officials to determine whether additional mitigation strategies are needed to protect the school community.

  • How many cases are there, and are they close in time together, or spread out over several weeks? Sporadic,single confirmed cases are not necessarily worrisome on their own, especially if students or staff did not attend school while infectious or the potential exposures in the school setting are limited (e.g., few classrooms or activities are impacted). Multiple cases that are identified closer together in time (e.g., within one week) could indicate that a significant, unidentified exposure occurred and/or that a higher level of transmission is occurring.
  • Are new cases traceable to the school community or are they likely the result of a different exposure (e.g.,household exposure, travel)? It is concerning to see cases that can be clearly traced back to an exposure within the school setting, as it may be an indication that transmission is occurring between members of the school community. Cases that can be traced back to a different exposure, such as a cluster of cases within a house hold or a likely exposure to a positive case while traveling, indicate that attendance in school was not the likely source of illness.
  • Where are the cases occurring, and do they have any common themes? If cases seem to be concentrated based on a common trait such as a physical location (e.g., confined to one building within a school) or to a specific group within the school (e.g., a cluster of cases among food service workers), it may be possible to narrow down the exposure source and take more specific actions that do not necessarily require a change in the learning model used for the school or school system as a whole. Finding common themes among cases may also aid a school’s efforts to modify practices to help prevent similar future exposures.
  • Are students, parents, and staff forthcoming about close contacts? When people are unwilling or unable to disclose their close contacts, it may be difficult to ensure that contact tracing can be effectively completed.When contact tracing cannot be fully completed, it is possible that exposed persons may not exclude for there commended quarantine period of 14 days and could go on to develop symptoms of illness while in the school setting, thereby resulting in additional exposures.
  • Is there other significant COVID-19 transmission in the surrounding community (e.g., a cluster of cases at a large local employer) that will likely impact families and staff? For example, in communities that are currently experiencing or have very recently (within the last 14 days) experienced an outbreak in a large local employer or 14 other setting where the families of many students and/or spouses of many staff work or visit, the nature of the community outbreak may increase the potential for community transmission in the school setting.
  • Are you able to maintain your current learning model based on staffing? Staffing is a critical component of school operations. When adequate staffing to support an in-person or hybrid learning model cannot be achieved, it may be necessary for schools to transition to an alternative learning model.

Minnesota Department of Education. (2020). Safe Learning Plan for 2020-21.