USD 394 changes COVID testing policies

USD 394 changes COVID testing policies

Sydney LaKous, Editor-in-Chief

USD 394 will be suspending the test to stay practices due to the advice of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Department of Education and also due to the lack of available test kits in the area. 

“At this point in time, there is little we can do to stop it (Omicron),” Rose Hill High School Nurse Teri Koester said. “Our new policy encourages students to stay home if sick and test if possible with a home test. We are no longer contract tracing. “

With the lessened monitoring of symptoms from the district, parents are being asked to look for ‘signs of illness and keep those children who are showing symptoms home.’

If students are symptomatic, they’re expected to get tested with a diagnostic test. Students who test positive for COVID-19 should stay home for at least five days and be fever-free for 24 hours before returning to school. Once returned to school, those students are expected to wear a mask for an additional five days. 

If students are exposed to people who test positive for COVID-19, they are encouraged to stay home for five days and to keep track of symptoms. While staying home from school and as they return to school, these students should wear a mask for 10 full days after the exposure.

KDHE recommends that everyone wear a well-fitted mask daily, indoors and outdoors when around others.  At this time, masks are highly recommended, but not mandated in the district, except for those who have tested positive for COVID-19.  Those individuals will be required to wear a mask through day 10.

As COVID-19 guidelines continue to change, KDHE will reassess the current plan in 30 days, and any changes to these current guidelines will be communicated with families. 

“The Test to Stay policy worked extremely well for us during the first semester,” Koester said. “It kept many students in school that otherwise would have been quarantined at home. The old policy identified positive cases and teachers reported close contacts and we tested them during their time in quarantine allowing them to stay in school. We only had two cases in the first semester that probably came from in class contact. However the new Omicron variant circulating through Kansas is extremely contagious and 90 percent of the cases identified through lab work are now the Omicron. This variant exploded everywhere across Kansas. In just 4 days the state of Kansas had 22,240 positive cases. Here at the high school, six students tested positive for me the first week back and last week I had 51 test positive and another 24 test positive outside of school. As you can see, 75 positives at a minimum of having four close contacts would mean testing an unsustainable amount of students.”