School districts scale back COVID-19 protocols | Coronavirus – Community News
Covid-19

School districts scale back COVID-19 protocols | Coronavirus

Paola and Osawatomie school board members approved a new COVID-19 notification letter at special meetings on Monday, Nov. 22, which rolled back previous virus protocols.

The new letter is the result of collaboration between the school district and county officials, who previously had a hard time getting on the same page regarding the Miami County Health Department’s close contact letter that school districts have sent to parents through their reporting systems. .

Paola School Board Chair Amanda Martell said on Monday that school district and county officials met last week and had a productive and positive meeting.

“The health department wants to do the right thing, as does the school district and so do the district commissioners,” Martell said.

Paola Inspector Matt Meek said he also met officials from the Osawatomie and Louisburg school districts on Friday to make sure they’re all on the same page.

“We want it to be as consistent as possible across the districts,” Meek said.

The new notification letters approved Monday by the Paola and Osawatomie school boards are identical.

The Louisburg school district already sent a similar notification letter previously approved by the board, so a special meeting was not necessary, Chief Superintendent Brian Biermann said.

Louisburg’s letter sent to parents or guardians states, “Your child may still attend school and/or participate in activities without requiring additional risk-mitigation strategies.”

Meek said that if a student or staff member contracts COVID-19 in a school setting, they will be sent home and school officials will determine who has been near that person.

Those persons will then receive the new notification letter.

The three-paragraph letter simply states what date the student may have been exposed and encourages parents to monitor them to see if any symptoms appear during the 14-day incubation period. The student can still attend school without additional mitigation strategies, including wearing a mask.

Meek said this also eliminates the need for the school to test students before they can participate in sports and activities.

The Paola School District is currently in Phase 1 of the Safe Return to School Plan, with masks being optional. When positive cases in a school building reach 8 percent of the student and staff population, that building moves into Phase 2, during which time masks are mandatory for 14 days.

Meek reiterated Monday that the new notification letter is only a response to COVID-19 cases within the schools.

The Miami County Health Department or Kansas Department of Health and Environment will handle contact tracing and notifications for any home-based exposure.

Employees or students who have been issued a formal quarantine by the health department or KDHE will be excluded for the quarantine period. Those who have been issued a modified quarantine by the health department or KDHE can still attend school if they wear a face mask or have a daily negative COVID test, according to district protocol.

Osawatomie has made the same changes to the “Safe Return to Personal Instruction Plan.” The school district is also working on phase 1 of its plan where masks are optional.

Osawatomie School Board Chairman DJ Needham told board members at Monday night’s special meeting that the goal of having identical or very similar wording in their notice letters and protocols was made to ensure that all school districts in the county and MCHD were on the same page and sending a consistent message.