HOISINGTON — If your student is sick with the flu, plan on keeping them home longer — for up to seven days. That was the determination of the USD 431 Board of Education Monday night.
According to Superintendent Bill Lowry, influenza has jumped up in the district, prompting him to propose the district increase the number of exclusion days families should observe when their student comes down with the flu.
Currently, the district requires students to stay home until they’ve been fever free for 24 hours. But healthcare providers are reporting people remain contagious for some time after the fever subsides. The new recommendation, as determined by Lowry and District Nurse Stacy Dolecheck, is now a seven day exclusion period from the onset of symptoms and diagnosis.
“According to the policy, you’re contagious for seven days,” Lowry said. “Now, the problem is, I think actually we’re contagious before we actually realize we have onset of influenza. A lot of people aren’t getting diagnosed until the third or fourth day.”
On Monday, Lowry counted seven Roosevelt Elementary students out of school with influenza, and custodians would be disinfecting the school that night, he said. That’s because it is believed the disease spreads prior to diagnosis.
Lowry did not indicate how many students at other district schools were out with the flu. Board member Keri Schremmer was in complete support of the proposal. Her daughter, she said, suffers from an auto-immune disorder, so flu season hits her family especially hard.
“There are schools that have been hit harder than our school, but I feel its just starting to build here,” Lowry said.
Becky Mooney raised the point that onset of symptoms was a key part of the policy, because some parents may not take their students to the doctor for diagnosis.
The board was in agreement that the policy would go into effect immediately. If students are out for the whole week, they will need to get a doctor’s release to return to class, according to another existing district policy.
“Hopefully, we’ll get through this phase fairly quickly,” Lowry said. “We’ll get to Spring break and hopefully it will help to have six days away from school and everybody.”
Friday, there is no school for students of USD 431, and Spring Break will be from Monday, March 11 through Friday, March 15. Students return to school Monday, March 18.
Electric car race
Students from the USD 431 Racing Team thanked the board for the support they’ve shown over the years to their electric car project. They recently purchased two frames and are busy restoring them from scratch. In addition , the club continues to maintain two other club cars. They hope to have the new cars completed in time for the first race this Spring. They reported they placed fourth last year in a state race.
It’s been nearly two years ago they sponsored their first race at the Hoisington Activity Center.
“The teams felt welcome and comfortable, and liked it,” one student said. “It was so good they moved the state sponsored race to Hoisington this year.”
They requested permission from the board to hold the 2019 Touchstone Energy West ElectroRally at the Activity Center on Thursday, April 11. They estimate there will be between 200 -250 people in attendance.
Racers compete to see how many laps they can do around the course in one hour. Last year, Hoisington logged 58 laps in one hour.
The board granted their request, and then approved a motion to approve use of the facility on an annual basis, and asked the club to continue to give annual updates.
Here’s a quick look at what happened at the USD 431 School Board meeting Monday:
• Approved the consent agenda, which included the minutes of the Feb. 4 regular meeting and the Feb. 15 special meeting, appropriations, resignations and the ESSDACK Interlocal Agreement. Action taken at the Feb. 15 special meeting included employing Karisa Cowan as the Lincoln Elementary School Principal for the 2019-20 school year.
• Accepted numerous policy updates which were presented for the second time in February.
• Approved a request from the electric car club to hold a race at the Hoisington Activity Center on April 11. The board also approved all future requests for this annual race, and asked the club to continue to provide regular updates.
• Approved as presented an update to the district’s policy on return to class after diagnosed with the flu, upping the number of days a student must stay out of school to seven from onset and diagnosis. The school will continue to adhere to its policy that a student absent from class for more than five days must have approval from a doctor to return to class.
• Approved a request for a representative of the district to attend the ISTE conference to be held June 23-26 in Philadelphia. The offer to attend will be extended to the new superintendent.
• Heard a legislative report from Superintendent Bill Lowry on a variety of bills that affect education in the state..
• Heard administrative reports from Superintendent Bill Lowry. Principals were not present as they were in their school buildings due to student-led conferences underway. Lowry explained conferences would continue Thursday, with spring break beginning next week.
• Approved personnel related items including resignations, classified contracts, supplemental contracts, and administrative contracts
• Requested and met for a 20-minute executive session for the purpose of discussion of personnel related items, with all board members and Superintendent Lowry in attendance. Action taken included approval of resignations, employment contracts, supplemental contracts and administrative contracts.
• Requested and met in a 10-minute executive session for the purpose of discussion of negotiations. No action was taken.