Students and staff who have been exposed to Covid-19 but have no symptoms will not be required to quarantine under a revised health and safety plan approved by the Burrell School Board on Tuesday.
From Wednesday, all students who have been exposed to Covid-19 but have no symptoms will be able to return to school immediately.
Parents are still notified by the school district when their child is exposed and they can monitor if they develop symptoms.
Parents had asked the school board to reconsider the quarantine policy.
Chief Inspector Shannon Wagner investigated instances of exposure at school and found that less than 3% of students exposed to Covid-19 at school tested positive for the virus.
The district’s original health and safety plan required students and staff identified as close contacts to be quarantined for 10 to 14 days, depending on symptoms.
Other school districts in Westmoreland and Allegheny counties are also reviewing their quarantine policies, Wagner said.
“They’ve said it’s not beneficial to keep a healthy child at home when transfer rates are so low at school,” she said. Some of those districts do not require a 10-14 day home quarantine.
Wagner reported that 182 students identified as close contacts missed an average of five days of school from Sept. 1 to Nov. 17. During the same period, 768 students missed school as they were quarantined for Covid-19 symptoms and missed an average of four days of school.
As of December 6, there were 115 positive cases of Covid-19 since the start of the school year.
Pam Key, chair of the school board, said she personally believed that a child who does not show any symptoms should be admitted to school and not be quarantined. “It’s all about education and we’re looking at educating our kids and looking at how it affects their education.”
The council’s vice president, Rick Kaczor, noted that it is more difficult for students to learn at home compared to last year when the district offered live videos of classroom teaching. “Students don’t have the live teacher in front of them to ask questions,” he said.
The district will not offer simultaneous live instruction in the classroom and on video this year because it was difficult for teachers to work with both groups of students at the same time, he said.