RUSSELL, Pa. – On a night where one open seat was filled on the school board, the Warren County School District took a step toward what it hopes will mean fewer empty seats in the classroom as well.
During a special meeting of the WCSD Board of Directors Monday night, the board unanimously approved a change to its Health and Safety Plan that gives students and staff who are deemed close contacts options if they are asymptomatic and do not test positive.
The options, essentially, boil down to the close contact either wearing a mask indoors for 7 – 10 days, or being denied entry to the building.
“We do not have a legal obligation to deny entry to children that are not symptomatic or are not positive,” WCSD Superintendent Amy Stewart said.
In the language added to the Health and Safety Plan, students and staff deemed to be close contacts can “wear a mask indoors in public for 10 days following exposure OR for 7 days, then (be) released with a documented negative test administered at a formal testing site/health care facility on day 5, 6, or 7.”
If that close contact refuses to wear a mask, they will be denied entry. Close contacts who test positive will still need to isolate for 10 days.
“So what that would mean is if you are in close contact, whether a student or a teacher, then the consequence of that would be to not have to go home, it would be to have to wear a mask,” Stewart said. “So if folks did not want to wear a mask, then the choice would be to deny entry.”
The number of students being denied entry across the district has been “significantly down” in the last week, Stewart added.
This change, Stewart said, is just the latest shift the district has made in trying to maintain the “balancing act” that is education during a pandemic.
“I would submit our track record as evidence that we’re willing to try some different things,” Stewart said. “If they work, great. If they don’t, we have changed this plan. We’ve met when we needed to. We’ve changed when we needed to. We have put different conditions in place.”
Donna Zariczny made the motion and Mary Passinger seconded.