R-II School District considers new quarantine, mask rules

By: Derrick Forsythe, Correspondent
Posted 12/11/20

As the Wright City R-II School District nears the end of the first semester, administrators are considering another round of changes related to quarantine and safety guidelines.

Last week the …

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R-II School District considers new quarantine, mask rules

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As the Wright City R-II School District nears the end of the first semester, administrators are considering another round of changes related to quarantine and safety guidelines.

Last week the Centers for Disease Control released new guidelines that could potentially impact the district’s response when it comes to contact tracing following a positive case.  

As of Tuesday, the Warren County Health Department, working in partnership with the school district, had not provided the final go-ahead concerning the latest guidelines. Health officials announced they were not adopting the shorter quarantine option due to the county’s high positivity rate. 

The latest guidelines issued include a reduction of the current 14-day quarantine model down to 10 days or even seven, if the individual in close contact were to be tested and receive a negative result.

“If the health department endorses this new guidance, it would probably make a big difference for us when it comes to our quarantine numbers,” said Berger. “The fact is that the biggest danger of us closing down is the loss of staff to quarantine.”

Thus far, none of the R-II buildings have been forced to close their doors since opening in Aug.

Berger says the district is continually taking into consideration the latest feedback, and the role it may play within the buildings and in delivering curriculum. 

R-II is also preparing to make possible changes to its mask guidelines, better understanding the efficacy of using face coverings.

“With the continued confirmation that masks are working, we’re going to make a mask push next week and heading into the break,” said Berger.

Included in this is the use of specific types of masks and the appropriate wearing of them while in the school setting. While R-II has required the use of face coverings for students in the second through 12th grade since the beginning of the school year, recent surveys and feedback have provided more specific guidance. 

“We’re going to look at our practices and see what we can do better,” said Berger. “We really want to focus on mask compliance, since that’s more within our control.”

He says two particular points are the proper wearing of the mask, with both mouth and nose covered, along with the type of mask. Based on new guidance, R-II is asking students and staff to avoid wearing neck gaiters or handkerchiefs, unless they can be double-layered for added protection.

“Gaiters are heavily used in our district, so that change may impact a lot of people,” said Berger. Another type of mask that R-II is discouraging and may ultimately not allow is the face shield, which Berger says is less prevalent across the campuses.

Despite the ongoing challenges, Berger feels confident in the district’s ability to continue pressing forward with a safe and effective education process.

“We are seeing a little light at the end of the tunnel,” said Berger. “You’ve got conversation about vaccines being handed out in spring. Even with some of the increases in cases, it seems like there is also progress being made.”

To this point, R-II has had 31 students and 21 staff members test positive. Last week the district averaged 121 students quarantined per day.

COVID-19, Wright City School District

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