The Perry County School District No. 32 Board of Education approved several changes to its “Stay the Course” plan in a special meeting on Sept. 10 in the Old Senior High gym. The board was prepared to amend its plan at the regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 8.
However, the Perry County Health Board made them aware of a special “emergency” meeting on Thursday, so the school board tabled the discussion until the Health Board decided how to move forward with its COVID-19 protocols.
The Health Board information was released on Friday morning and the board approved the recommendations made by the Perry County Health Department and information was sent out district-wide on Sunday.
The school board placed specific emphasis on three bullet points that were addressed in the Health Department letter and in its quarantine procedures.
As of Wednesday’s meeting, it was noted that there were 535 students in quarantine in the entire district.
“My stance remains the same,” School Board President Jamie Robinson said. “I still want to keep as many students as we can in school five days per week. Doing remote learning or learning from home is not the best way.”
Effective Monday, Sept. 13, all children that were currently quarantined as a close contact were able to return to school and in-person learning, but they are required to wear a mask at all times at school until their quarantine period expires. Parents and guardians have the choice to keep their quarantined student home if they do not want them to wear a mask. Failure to comply with these rules will remove this option and the child will be sent home for the remainder of their quarantine period.
Every other student may attend school with or without a mask, according to their personal choice.
As soon as possible, vaccinated students will no longer be required to wear a mask at any time at school, but can still wear a mask if they choose.
Under the new guidance, unvaccinated students who are identified as close contacts to a positive individual can “quarantine at school” but must still wear a mask when they can’t social distance more than three feet. During the school day, when the school can identify opportunities for these students to remove the masks, the building administration will let the student and the appropriate staff know. Parents and guardians have the choice to keep quarantined students home if they do not want them to wear a mask.
As part of the new guidance, students that have had COVID-19 in the last 90 days will be able to follow the same protocols as the vaccinated students. Although the district asks that parents provide proof that they have recovered from COVID-19, and this may be in the form of a letter from their physician or from the health department.
Finally, all students and staff who are sick should stay home.
Parents and guardians will be presented with three choices in the event a student is considered a close contact.
• A student may stay home for the duration of the quarantine, up to 14 days. Each day at home is an excused absence for the child. A student is responsible for accessing daily assignments through Seesaw or Google Classroom. A student’s return to school date will be provided to District 32 by the health department.
• A student may stay home for 10 days, and allow them to attend school from day 11-14 if they have been asymptomatic during quarantine, and they must remain masked at all times at school except when eating or drinking until after Day 14. These students must be separated from other students by at least 6 feet during mealtime when masks are removed.
• Parents and students may choose the 7-Day Test Out Option in which students and staff who are quarantined as close contacts may return to school on or after Day 8 if they have been asymptomatic during quarantine and are tested for COVID-19 on Day 5 or after with negative test results.
Perry County District No. 32 Superintendent Andy Comstock hopes that the community will allow the district patience while the new systems are adopted.
“What does this look like at district No. 32? Obviously, given the timing of this new guidance and the timing in which the Board of Education voted to take action, our staff must have time to work through these new measures,” he said. “I ask that you be patient this week as we work to implement the new procedures In an orderly manner that does not further disrupt classroom instruction.”
Even though the amendment to the COVID-19 plan was tabled for the night, there were some issues that needed to be worked out. The district approved the purchase of 14 school buses for the 2022-2023 school year from Midwest Bus Sales. All the purchased buses will be fitted with air-conditioning.
The board also adopted the special education compliance plan, and agreed to monitor the comprehensive school improvement plan.
The first CSIP progress report will be presented in October 2021.
The next meeting will be Wednesdsay, Oct. 13.