COVID Update for Parents & Patrons in USD 331 Kingman-Norwich November 2, 2020
Our students have been able to attend school Onsite and in person for 10 weeks now. We have experienced only minor interruptions of working with kids over this same time period. We have had 128 students quarantined so far. We have had 23 staff quarantined. We have had 5 students test positive and 5 staff test positive for COVID 19. Thus far, 96% of the quarantines have been a result of close contacts with a Positive Case originating from Outside the district/building. They have been from parents coming in contact at their work, from funerals, from weddings, or from other gatherings outside the school.
As a school district, we have a rigorous mitigation plan that has been in place since before school started. We have discovered that our schools are some of the safest places in the county and that is due to our mitigation efforts. We require masks, we made organizational changes this summer so we could socially distance students and staff. We worked hard to spread kids out. We invested in plexiglass physical barriers in all classrooms. We stabilized groups as much as possible so kids weren’t mingling randomly during the day. We intentionally wash hands at least hourly and we have hand sanitizing stations distributed around each building. We take the temperature of every student and staff member at least once daily and generally more. We limit access to the schools from outside visitors. We require masks. And we require them to be worn properly. It is not an easy task. Our kids do pretty well but even some of them let the mask drop below their noses and below their mouth occasionally.
We have had positive cases in the schools but we haven’t had to transition to full Remote Learning. Why? Because we consult with the health department on each case. We do thorough contact tracing and if we have evidence that Masking has been worn with fidelity and distancing is practiced, the consensus is that students and others are at Low Risk for exposure to COVID in our schools. If we have kids or staff that do not follow guidelines religiously, then they will be excluded from school and sports.
We will not be surprised if we have to temporarily transition to remote learning at some point because of a scenario where we let our guard ( and masks) down. It could be tomorrow; it could be next semester. We hope that doesn’t happen but we have too many opportunities for unnecessary exposure. When I wear my mask around town or at school, I am protecting myself AND You. When you do not have a mask on, you are not protecting yourself, me or anyone else.
In plain English - USD 331 Schools have been able to stay in session and in-person including the playing of entire football, volleyball (except for 2 dates in Norwich), cross country, tennis & golf seasons in large part due to our mitigation plan (Masks & distancing).
We know keeping our schools open and in session is important to our communities and state. We need you to support our efforts by doing your part. Please don’t read this as a scolding reprimand to the general public. This is simply a humble request that you do your part because we cannot keep our schools open without you doing your part.
We will have some rigid crowd size limitations during basketball season. We will also require all spectators to wear masks properly at all times. If you are unable or unwilling to wear a mask then you need to be making other plans for how to watch games and support our Eagles. We are working hard to improve the viewing experience for those watching the live stream on the internet.
In closing, I am very proud of our students and staff for all of their tolerance to our modifications of behaviors and practices that allow us to have school On Site. I felt like this was a great day to update the public to make sure you are aware that our mitigation plan is the only reason we continue to be On Site with kids. Masks are a very important part of our plan.
Max Clark, Superintendent
USD 331 Kingman-Norwich