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2021 USD 343 COVID-19 Question and Answer Document

September 03, 2021

The following document was created from questions received from USD #343 parents.  All answers provided are based on data, guidelines, and regulations as of 9-2-2021.  

2021 COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Masks:

  1. Will the mask mandates continue for young students as long as students under 12 do not have the option to get the vaccine?
A:  Remember that mandates can come from different levels.  Federal, State, County, and District.  Our district will follow the mandates from Federal, State, and County levels.  From the district’s standpoint, we will continue to look at local data to determine if masks are needed and at what level or age group they may be needed.  Yes, vaccination availability is considered.  Any district mandate that goes above what the Federal, State, or County level is asking, would need to be approved by the USD #343 Board of Education. 
 
  1. I’ve heard that some parents are purposely sending their children to school without masks on purpose.  Is there a consequence for children if this happens?
A:  We hope this is not happening.  However, if it does, students arriving at school without a mask will be given one.  During the first week of the mask mandate, building administrators worked with students to avoid disciplinary consequences.  After the first week of implementing the masking requirements, discipline consequences would be assigned.  Keep in mind students or parents who do not want to follow the current mask requirement have the option of virtual school.  The virtual school option is of no cost to the parent. 
 

Quarantine:

  1. Is forced quarantine due to close contact and COVID sick time counted against student's attendance?  How is that handled?

A:  An absence related to COVID is simply counted as a student absence.  However, it will not count against the student in terms of truancy or loss of credit at the high school level.  

 

  1. Can students "attend" school from home?  This would include iPad work and any school work sent home with them.  

A:  Although students cannot “attend” school from home in a remote setting this year, they should have assignments available from classroom teachers.  If classwork is not being sent home during quarantine or isolation time, please contact your student’s school.  The remote learning option we used during the 2020-21 school year is not available in the same format due to a change in State law.  Each individual student is allowed no more than 40 hours of remote learning.  Each building must track this time for each student.  As you can imagine, this would be very time consuming for each building.  We simply do not have the staff to assure the time would be accurate.  There is a waiver that can be applied to each individual student that exceeds the 40-hour limit.  This waiver must be approved by the local Board of Education and the Kansas State Board of Education.  If a waiver is not approved by either level and the student goes over the 40-hour limit, the funding for this student would be reduced to that of a virtual student.  As you can see this is a risk in terms of funding.  As a district, we would like to maintain the option to move to 5 days of remote learning for a full building or district if needed due to a widespread COVID-19 outbreak.  This option would be used prior to shutting down a building for 5 or more days.  (Similar to what happened in the Wellington School District earlier in the school year.)  

 

 

  1. Because my daughter was home for 5 days, has she already met her 40 hour limit of remote learning? 

A:  As mentioned in question #4, we are not using the 40 hour limit on individual students so they are not counted as remote absences.  They are simply counted as “absent” with the expectation that classroom work/assignments will be sent home and completed upon the student’s return to school. 

 

  1. Can we have better instructions on school work/ homework expectations when they are sent home to quarantine? 

A:  This is certainly a fair request.  We will pass this request to the buildings to make improvements in this type of situation.

 

  1. What is the difference between Absent and Excused Remote on the attendance report?

A:  You should not see an “Excused Remote” absence on the attendance report this year.  If you do, please contact your student’s building as the absence has been coded incorrectly. 

 

  1. When will the district start the “test to stay” program on-site?  Where will this be located and what will the times be?

A:  We will hopefully receive the needed testing supplies to start this program within the next few days.  Our current plan is to use the Highland Community College gymnasium, (the former Perry Middle School gym) located at 203 W. Bridge St. in Perry for our test to stay program.  On-site testing would begin at 8:00 am.  More information on this program will be sent to parents once it is finalized.

 

  1. If one of my children tests positive for COVID-19, can my other children participate in the "test to stay" program to remain in school?

A:  If you can isolate or keep your child that tested positive from your other children, then yes, they can participate in the “test to stay” program and remain in school with a negative test.  If you are unable to isolate from the positive case, the quarantine time and “test to stay” program can start after the positive case has finished the health department requirements for positive cases. 

 

  1. How many students are typically quarantined from one positive case at school?

A:  This varies by the situation and by building level.  As you can imagine, students at the elementary level come in contact with fewer students as they have only one core or classroom teacher.  A middle school or high school student may change classrooms or teachers up to seven times in one day.  The middle school or high school student who tests positive for COVID-19 has the potential to expose many more students or staff members due to this fact.  Another scenario involves extracurricular activities.  Health departments have the option to quarantine a team or teams depending on the activity and the potential exposure risks.  *Another factor to keep in mind is fully vaccinated individuals are not required to quarantine as long as they are not exhibiting symptoms.  Also, students who reside in Jefferson County are not required to quarantine as long as both the positive case and close contact wore their masks properly when within 6 ft of each other.  We will answer your question using this week’s data; we have 8 COVID-19 positive students and 40 students in quarantine.  Therefore your average amount of students quarantined per case is 5. 

 

  1. How many school close contacts or quarantined students test positive after their exposure? 

A:  We are seeing more students who have been quarantined test positive this year as compared to last year.  Although I do not have the exact data from the county health department, I would estimate it to be under 10%.  

 

  1. Are quarantines keeping healthy kids out of school?

A:  It really depends on how you look at it.  On one hand, you could say that yes, a higher percentage of students in quarantine are not testing positive during their quarantine time.  On the other hand, you could say no, because if only one or two students in quarantine later test positive then we have added even more students to the positive and quarantine list who cannot attend school.  Once the “test to stay” program is fully implemented, this question becomes less relevant.  If students in quarantines test negative they can stay in school.  

 

  1. I have not been notified by the health department or the CDC (KDHE) regarding my quarantine.  Should I expect to be notified? 

A:  At times the local and State health departments become overwhelmed with large numbers of positive cases, which then result in even larger numbers of quarantines.  Therefore the time needed to notify individuals takes much longer.  In some cases, the quarantine time may be complete by the time the official notification is received.  We also noticed this during the 2020-21 school year.  If you get a call from a contact tracer, keep in mind they likely do not know the specifics of our district or county guidelines. Every county is slightly different, as is every school district. Be ready to tell them your vaccination status or the name of the approved testing plan you may be on.  (For USD #343 this would be the “test to stay” plan.)

 

  1. If a child has already had COVID-19, is the close contact quarantine still in place going forward for that child?

A: If the close contact has tested positive for COVID-19 within the last six months, they are NOT subject to quarantine.  However, a verified and documented positive antigen or PCR test result must be confirmed by the health department.

 

  1. If a child has had the 1st dose of the vaccine but is not yet eligible for the 2nd dose (still in the 21 day waiting period,) is the close contact quarantine any different? 

A:  Unfortunately the close contact quarantine only changes once the child is “fully vaccinated”.  By definition, this is two weeks after the 2nd dose of vaccine is received.  The good news is that your child is well on the way to being exempt from quarantine in the future. 

 

  1. Is there a way for students to eat lunches outside at the middle school (like they did at the elementary school last year) to possibly help with the close contact issue?

A:  Lecompton Elementary School, like the High School, has a hard surface that will allow picnic tables and shelter for the outside eating areas.  The Middle School currently does not have this option.  The good news is that the Middle School does have two separate lunchroom areas.  One for the 5th/6th grade and one for the 7th/8th grade.  

 

  1.  Are Board of Education meetings held secretly? 

A:  No.  You can find information from previous and future Board meetings on the USD 343 website under the District Information and Board of Education tabs.  https://usd343.communitybydiligent.com/Portal/    Additionally, you can sign up to receive email notifications once an agenda for a meeting is released. https://usd343.communitybydiligent.com/Portal/Subscribe.aspx   Recent Board of Education meetings have been lived streamed on the USD 343 Media YouTube channel as a way to give everyone access to information.  A recording of previous meetings remains in place for all to watch.  The next Board of Education meeting will be held on September 13, 2021, at Perry-Lecompton High School.  There will actually be three parts to this meeting.  The Revenue Neutral Rate Hearing will be held at 6:15 pm.  The 2021-22 Budget Hearing will be held at approximately 6:20 pm.  The regular September meeting will begin at 6:30 pm.  

 

  1.  Is it true that one person makes all of the decisions for the district?

A:  No.  Administrators make recommendations to the Board of Education on many topics throughout the school year.  Board members take all information into consideration prior to voting on a recommendation.  Because there are seven Board members, four votes are required to pass a policy or recommendation.  You may have noticed final votes of 4-3, 7-0, or sometimes a recommendation fails to pass with a vote of 3-4 or lower.  The final vote depends on each individual Board member’s opinion about the recommendation or the presented recommendation.  

 

Helpful Resources:

If you have questions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, you might want to review information on this website:  https://getvaccineanswers.org/ 

If you are looking for COVID-19 testing locations, this website may be helpful:  https://www.gogettested.com 

Link to USD #343 COVID Questions and Answers Video - https://youtu.be/GJBgwigepOk

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