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Students defined as close contacts are allowed to return to school, must wear mask

By Anne Homan

On Monday, Oct. 12 the Lennox School District Board of Education held their monthly meeting.

Highlighting the meeting was an amendment to the Return to Learn plan.

Superintendent Chad Conway spoke to the board about the way in which other school districts have adopted new policy that allows students on quarantine to come to school if they are wearing masks.

“We already require masks in grades 5-12 and require them, in a lot of situations, for PreK through fourth,” said Conaway. That paired with the uneven communication from the Department of Health, Conaway proposed amending the current Return to Learn Plan to allow students deemed close contact and/or asked to quarantine to be allowed to return to school; however, they will be required to wear masks.

“We have had seven total cases in our buildings,” said Conaway. “One thing that we have learned from those cases is that they are likely coming from home, from an adult in the household that got it and not transmitted at school.”

Currently from the Department of Health the District has had miscommunication to the students who should be in quarantine and those just asked to monitor symptoms.

“If it was happening like it was suppose to happen, I wouldn’t propose this, but it’s not,” said Conaway.

The District is screening every morning in the Junior and Senior High and screening twice a day in the younger grades. Conaway believes this helps the District not see internal spread.

The newly amended plan states that if a student is identified as a close contact and/or recommended to quarantine by the South Dakota Department of Health, students JK-12 may continue to come to school, providing they are asymptomatic, wear a mask at all times, complete a temperature and symptom check twice daily, and they will be socially distanced during lunch. If a student is unable or unwilling to wear a mask appropriately, they will be directed to complete their quarantine period at home. Conaway did note that parents wishing to keep their students home for quarantine will be allowed to do so.

The board heard reports from the Superintendent and building principals. Conaway noted in his report that the District will be receiving around 2,000 antigen tests to be used for students.

“I think it will be a good thing,” said Conaway. “It will be situational and it has to be for kids who are symptomatic.”

Lennox Junior High/High School Principal, Chad Allison spoke to the board about the after school program that has begun. The program is to aid students who need help with their homework. Teachers and high school tutors are on hand to give those students extra assistance during that time.

At the meeting, the board also reviewed how the District is spending their ESSER funds and Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF).

A large amount of the CRF funds will be spent on a new bus for the district. Also planned to purchase with those funds are Lennox Elementary Laptops, LWC Intermediate laptops and Worthing Elementary iPads along with other items needed during this time of COVID.

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