The Great Bend USD 428 school board has approved an option that allows students to stay in school after being exposed to a positive COVID-19 case. Instead of a 10-day quarantine at home, healthy students can undergo daily tests and stay in school.
The district released the following information after Monday’s school board meeting:
In an effort to keep students in school learning and staff in school teaching, the USD 428 Board of Education has approved a modified quarantine Test to Stay procedure and protocol for those exposed to a positive COVID-19 case. USD 428 continues to monitor the health of the school community, inform parents and families, and now, will provide an alternative to a 10-day quarantine at home.
The testing strategy is intended to support safe, in-person learning and activities while providing another layer of protection for students, teachers and staff. USD 428 Great Bend schools are not required to conduct COVID-19 testing but are offering it as a free service for students and employees.
In the event that a staff member or student is identified as a close contact of a positive case of COVID-19 (exposure within 3 feet for a cumulative 10 minutes within 24 hours), the Modified Quarantine - Test to Stay option will soon be available. This is an alternative to the 10-day, at-home, quarantine.
USD 428 Test to Stay Program Overview:
• Type of Test: Abbot BinaxNOW Rapid Antigen Test
- Shallow nasal swab (not as deep as PCR tests)
- 15 minute Rapid Test Results
• A student will only be tested for COVID-19 with documentation of consent from a parent or legal guardian.
• A parent, or legal guardian, is allowed to accompany students through the daily testing process.
• Daily testing will be conducted for seven school days from the date of exposure and students will be required to wear a mask while at school during this time.
• All school nurses and nurse aides will be trained to administer the rapid test to staff and students. All supplies and staffing will be provided at the school sites with protocols below being administered as effectively and efficiently as possible.
• All results will be reported to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment through the LabXchange Program.
More information will be provided to families and staff as soon as the timeline has been confirmed. In the meantime, program details, as well as procedures/protocols, can be found on the district website at greatbendschools.net/covid-19.
“I want kids in school,” Superintendent Khris Thexton said. “As quarantines continue to be an issue for us this year, similar to last year, KDHE is (recommending) a way to keep kids and staff in school more.”
St. John is using this option and Ellinwood and Hoisington are looking into the process, he said.
“The process is pretty straightforward,” he said. KDHE will supply all the tests and related equipment, as well as the cost of training people to administer the tests.
The district followed KDHE rules, which require testing for seven days. It is possible KDHE will change that to 10 days.
Board member Deanna Essmiller said, “It’s a great option for parents to keep kids in school.”
School Board President Jacquie Disque said Great Bend schools are doing better than some districts.
“Somehow or another, we’re doing the right things, because we don’t have the huge numbers (of cases) that I’m hearing about and reading about in other places,” she said.