SPECIAL SCHOOL BOARD MEETING ON DISTRICT'S COVID-19 CLOSE CONTACT TRACING AND PRACTICES MOVING FORWARD

Viborg-Hurley School Board Special Meeting

Thursday, October 8—7:00 p.m.—Viborg Gym

Board Discussion on Our District’s COVID-19 Close Contact Tracing/Practices Moving Forward

At the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, the South Dakota Department of Health (SD DOH) and the South Dakota Department of Education (SD DOE) required a 14-day quarantine for students and staff who were identified as a verified close contact to a known positive COVID-19 case.  Close contact is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the SD DOH as any individual who is within 6 feet of a positive COVID-19 person for 15 minutes or more.  Our District has followed this definition and requirement since the start of the 20-21 school year on August 25th.

Recently, the SD Secretary of Education Dr. Ben Jones emailed the state superintendents a memo regarding close contacts in school settings.  In his memo, paragraph three states, “When it comes to close contact recommendations, boards have the ability to define the conditions under which close contacts may resume attendance.”  Dr. Jones stated the 14-day quarantine for being a verified close contact is now a recommendation from the SD DOH.  Since his memo was released on September 11, our District has continued to follow the SD DOH recommendation regarding a 14-day quarantine if a student or staff member is determined to be a verified close contact to a known positive COVID-19 case.

Local school boards now have the authority to determine how to administer the SD DOH recommendation and how to facilitate contact tracing for the school day and activities.

I know it has been difficult for our District and others to keep healthy and asymptomatic students and staff home for 14 days when they have been identified as verified close contacts.  Some districts whose students and staff are wearing facial coverings/masks are not reporting them as close contacts.  Other districts who do not have a mask requirement are giving thought to allowing verified close contacts to return to school if wearing a facial covering/mask in school, on the school bus, and at school activities during the 14-day quarantine, as long as they remain asymptomatic.   

Since August 25th, and as of October 5th, our District has had three (3) positive COVID-19 student cases and based on our District’s close contact tracing, of our students and staff have been placed in quarantine by the SD DOH for 14 days.  None of the 23 students and staff placed in quarantine have tested positive for COVID-19. 

The Viborg-Hurley School Board now has some flexibility to decide what they may do locally with close contacts and the SD DOH recommendations.  I am not sure what our Board might decide, but the close contact tracing and practices warrants a board discussion at a special meeting on Thursday, October 8 at 7:00 p.m. in the Viborg gym.  I assume there will be some support and some opposition to my recommendation.  It is impossible to create a win-win situation for all stakeholders.  As superintendent, I plan to make the following recommendation to our school board regarding close contact tracing and practices moving forward:


Viborg-Hurley School Board Decision on Close Contact Quarantine Practices

Superintendent Recommendation


Notification of a Positive COVID-19 Case

  • When staff, parents, and/or the SD DOH notify the school of a positive COVID-19 case, designated district personnel will conduct the close contact tracing.  
  • The district will use social distancing, use of facial coverings/masks, and duration of close contact time, in determining whether an individual is considered a potential close contact. 

Close Contacts in School

  1. Students and/or staff members will not be identified as a close contact if they were able to socially distance (6 feet away and/or less than 15 minutes) and/or properly wore a facial covering/mask during the time of close contact in school, on the school bus, or at school activities (participant/spectator). These students and staff will be contacted by school personnel and recommended to quarantine. School personnel will continue to track these individuals through the recommended quarantine date. 
  2. Students and staff members recommended to quarantine who remain in school must show no COVID-19 symptoms, wear a mask at all times when they are not able to socially distance, and will be required to have their temperature checked during the school day through the recommended quarantine date.
  3. Students and/or staff members will be identified as a close contact if they were not able to socially distance and/or did not wear or improperly wore a facial covering/mask during the time of close contact in school, on the school bus, or at school activities (participant/spectator), and will be subject to the 14-day quarantine.
    • Parents who would like their child to return to school earlier than the 14-day quarantine—after 7 days in quarantine, their child must have shown no COVID19 symptoms (remain asymptomatic) to return to school, continue to monitor for symptoms, and will be required to properly wear a facial covering/mask in school, on the school bus, and at school activities (participant/spectator), until the full quarantine has expired.
    • Staff members who would like to return to school earlier than the 14-day quarantine—after 7 days in quarantine, they must have shown no COVID-19 symptoms (remain asymptomatic) to return to school, continue to monitor for symptoms, and will be required to properly wear a facial covering/mask in school, on the school bus, and at school activities (participant/spectator), until the full quarantine has expired.
    • Students and/or staff members who elect not to wear a facial covering/mask in school, on the school bus, and at school activities (participant/spectator) after 7 days in quarantine, will be required to stay home from school for the duration of the 14-day quarantine.

Close Contacts Outside of School

5. Contact tracing for cases outside of school will continue to be handled by the SD DOH.  Students determined to be close contacts outside of school will be subject to the 14-day quarantine.  

  • Parents who would like their child to return to school earlier than the 14-day quarantine—after 7 days in quarantine, their child must have shown no COVID19 symptoms (remain asymptomatic) to return to school, continue to monitor for symptoms, and will be required to properly wear a facial covering/mask in school, on the school bus, and at school activities (participant/spectator), until the full quarantine has expired.
  • Students who elect not to wear a facial covering/mask in school, on the school bus, and at school activities (participant/spectator) after 7 days in quarantine, will be required to stay home from school for the duration of the 14-day quarantine.

Close Contacts in Household

6. Students and/or staff members identified as a close contact to a known positive COVID19 case in their own household will be required to stay home from school for the duration of the 14-day quarantine.  

SD DOH Investigation

  • After designated district personnel have completed their investigative measures for contact tracing, a list of students and/or staff members identified as close contacts will be submitted to the SD DOH.  Close contacts will be notified by district personnel and they will be asked to quarantine.  
  • The SD DOH investigator then determines who is a verified (confirmed) close contact and recommends who should be quarantined.  

 

Viborg-Hurley School Board Special Meeting Agenda

October 8, 2020 – 7:00 p.m. – Viborg Gym  

Agenda: 

1. Convene:  7:00 p.m.   Call to order, roll call, establish a quorum

2. Pledge of Allegiance

3. Motion to adopt the agenda:

4. Welcome Visitors

PUBLIC INPUT: Representatives of the public who desire to address the board on any topic related to board work are welcome to do so at this time.  Speakers are requested to limit their remarks to no more than 5 minutes, to appoint a spokesperson if the concern is a group concern, and to supplement verbal presentations with written reports if desired or necessary.

  • If you would like to address the Board, please contact the Superintendent so adequate time can be arranged.

5. Advertise for sealed bids on (2) – 2020 School Buses (65 passenger) with/without bus trade-ins

6. Discuss a memorandum from the SD DOE on close contacts and our District’s Return to Learn Plan.

7. Approve District practice on COVID-19 Close Contacts, effective October 9, 2020.

8. Adjourn