Summit School District to continue mask requirement until county cases decline
Masking throughout Summit School District has been “pretty smooth sailing” so far, according to Superintendent Roy Crawford, who spoke on the subject at the school board meeting Thursday, Aug. 26. He added that there is still no answer as to when the masking requirement will come to an end.
As of Aug. 25, Summit County’s incidence rate was 232.4 positive coronavirus cases per 100,000 people over the previous seven days. The safe level according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is 35 new cases per 100,000 people.
Crawford said all of the organizations the district looks to for recommendations relating to the coronavirus — such as the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Summit County Public Health Department — are continuing to recommend masking in schools.
“We made those decisions based on what those institutions were telling us is best practice,” Crawford said at the meeting. “Our personal opinions didn’t matter; it was just that that’s what we’re being told, and it seemed like it would be irresponsible to do otherwise.”
The only two people who spoke in public comment at the board meeting spoke against the district’s masking policy, noting the negative effects masking has had on their children, including one with special needs.
Also at the meeting, Crawford said a student who tests positive for the coronavirus will need to stay home for a set period of time as determined by the student’s family. He said the other students in the classroom will be notified to watch for symptoms, but they won’t need to quarantine since everyone is masked.
Chief Financial Officer Kara Drake noted that the school district doesn’t have the authority to quarantine anyone, and that those decisions come from local public health departments once they are notified of a case.
“The new school guidance is that because schools have so many other mitigation strategies in place, including masks and high vaccination rates, there is not a need this year to quarantine groups of students like we had last year,” Drake said at the meeting. “Parents will be notified in the event of a positive case, and then public health takes it from there and does the interview with the positive individual and determines next steps.”
Crawford mentioned the district’s other mitigation efforts, including air filtration systems and distancing students 3 feet at lunch when masks are off for no more than 15 minutes.
The district is not providing any testing, but it is considering a rapid testing program that would be provided by the state. Under the potential program, Crawford said the state would bring in a contractor once per week to run a rapid testing site for the school, and families and staff would have to sign up to be tested and would have results in 15 minutes. He said officials are looking into the logistics of the program to see if it would work for the district.
“On the surface, we would like to do it. We would like to give families … and staff that option,” Crawford said. “We would like to have the data ourselves, but we need to know more about the logistics.”
Crawford also said the district is considering posting information about cases on its website once per week but needs to ensure individual children can’t be identified from the information.
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