School board looks at quarantine policy change

Education

The Sioux Falls School District just released a proposal to update its COVID-19 plan. The board plans to vote on the changes on Wednesday. Here’s a look at the proposal. If everyone is wearing a face mask, only the person who tests positive will need to isolate. Any students or staff members who had close contact may return to school and monitor for symptoms. But if not everyone is wearing a mask, some students and staff members who had close contact will still need to quarantine at home.

The Sioux Falls School District is looking at how other states like Wyoming and Nebraska are handling quarantines for students who have close contact with someone with COVID-19. At its meeting on Monday, board members said the goal is to keep them safe, but to also to keep them in school.

“I think it’s time for us to keep educating kids and we’re supposed to and maybe look at making a change and I think sooner rather than later would be best,” Todd Thoelke, board member, said.

According to the superintendent, around 1,200 Sioux Falls students have had to quarantine so far. School Board President Cynthia Mickelson spoke with us before the district released the proposal.
She gave us an example of how part of this change could work so students don’t have to quarantine if they aren’t sick.

“Basically, two masks, one’s positive the other’s a close contact. As long as a close contact is asymptomatic, they may self monitor and be in the building and wear a mask, is my understanding of how these states have done it,” Mickelson said.

Mickelson says that would change if a student starts showing symptoms.

“All COVID positives do have to isolate and that’s a ten day window of isolations,” Mickelson said.

Brady: “Any concern this tweak could get people sick? How would you respond to something like that?”
CM: “Well, what I would say is, right now, it is an unknown. Change is unknown.”

The school board will continue to monitor the data and re-evaluate as the month’s progress. Mickelson says it’ll be an important balancing act.

“We need to, the amount of students and could be staff in the future, too, that are out of the building who would like to be in the building who are not sick but were close contact is an issue we need to address. We also need to make sure we keep our students and staff safe,” Mickelson said.

Mickelson says the board will take public input before it votes on the proposal. You can see it on our website.

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