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Community News Jan 4th, 2022 - 10:43:26

BOE votes to update COVID-19 decision guide.

By Dave Whitaker
Jan 4, 2022, 12:41

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The Bleckley County Board of Education held a called meeting Monday night in the BCMS Media Center to discuss the recently updated guidelines regarding COVID-19 from the CDC. Superintendent Dr. Steve Smith referenced several items including an article which quoted Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona who said children need to be in school as well as one which questioned the effectiveness of cloth masks against the Omicron variant.

There were questions asked. Melissa Stewart wasn’t opposed to updating the school policy to align with the CDC but asked if anything had to be done since the current policy had seemed to be working. She asked if the goal was to increase student attendance at school. Smith said it was and also to ensure employees could be there also. Diane Lester wondered about those who would be returning wearing cloth masks vs N95 or KN95, Smith said there would be no difference.

Smith expressed concern about the possibility of becoming short staffed due to Omicron but said he would rather wait to see how things go before declaring all school employees essential and having them return if able. He recommended the district COVID decision guide be updated to closer align with the new CDC guidelines which reduces the number of quarantine days from 10 to 5.

District Nurse Ashley Herndon was in attendance, her input was sought during the discussion. She was in favor of the board updating the policy, stating there were some middle school teachers who had completed quarantine and were anxious to return to school. In the end, the following update to the COVID-19 decision guide was passed.

1) Positive students or staff will be allowed to return to school/work after five days of isolation with no fever and minor symptoms, with an additional five days at school/work in a mask, 2) Parents will still have the option to allow students to quarantine at school for school exposure, with the student wearing a mask for the 10-day school quarantine period, 3) Students who quarantine at home will spend five days at home and five days in a mask, 4) All days listed are calendar days, not school days, and 5) Students returning from quarantine after five days are to go to see their school nurse for a temperature check and basic evaluation to insure they are no longer symptomatic, or the symptoms are mild enough to return to school.

Following a brief executive session, the meeting was dismissed at 7:15 pm.

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