In cooperation with local health and school officials, the Journal-Republican is presenting Q and A’s on issues surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak. We will be posting them online throughout the week, and also in our weekly print edition.
Q&A from Monticello CUSD #25, Dr. Vic Zimmerman, School Superintendent
1. How is preliminary contact tracing done at the schools?
When we are made aware of a positive case the process begins by Principals looking at each class to determine students/employees who were within six feet of the positive case for more than fifteen minutes. Some students have more close contacts than others based on what classes they are in, specials, etc plus questions are asked about outside of school contacts in order to get a full picture. We look back 48 hours from the first symptom and if no symptoms then just 48 hours prior. So a positive case with no symptoms from Monday would have no close school contacts, whereas a positive case from Friday would have two days of close school contacts. As for shutting down a whole classroom, it depends on how many close contacts we have in the classroom and if the teacher is a close contact. By nature, an elementary school classroom is going to have more close contacts than high school classes. As for shutting down a whole school, that depends on the number of related positive cases we have in the school and if we can adequately staff the school. The health department has the final say on close contacts and quarantines.
2. Will the schools be going 100% Full Remote after Thanksgiving and Christmas on the anticipation of positive cases?
We are 100 percent Remote Learning through December 4. At this time we do not have additional plans to change in-school learning between Thanksgiving and Christmas Breaks or after Christmas Break. We are continuing to monitor our COVID data daily and will make decisions based on the data at the time. We are prepared to go to full remote in any one school or in the whole district with one day’s notice if that becomes necessary. We also do not have special requirements for families/employees traveling out of the area (might actually be better to leave our area) – we expect families/employees to follow COVID safety guidelines on self-certification, masking, and gathering at all times, regardless of travel.
3. When can I use the KIRBY RAPID Testing for schools program and how can I get a form to have the test?
This program was set up by Kirby Hospital for school employees and students that have a single symptom exclusion in order to rule out COVID as the cause of the symptom. Employees/students with single symptom exclusion are required to self-quarantine for 14 days OR get a negative COIVD test OR have a doctor write a note for an alternative diagnosis. The rapid testing program allows employees/students to pick up a form from the school office that allows for the test to be completed free of charge. Results are returned to the schools the same day. Employees/students with positive tests are notified by the Kirby Lab and the school by 7PM on the day of the test. Employees/students with negative tests may return to school the following day as long as they are symptom and fever free for 24 hours.