HOPKINS, Mo. — Amendments to North Nodaway’s COVID-19 plan and policy were approved during a special board work session on Jan. 5.
These adjustments were created using state laws, guidance from the Department of Health and Senior Services and answers from a survey sent out to parents of North Nodaway students as well as staff and patrons of the district.
“We’re trying to do what we can to get people to stay,” said Superintendent Chris Turpin.
The new guidelines describe protocols for students who are close contacts to individuals infected with COVID-19.
Last month, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt sent letters to school districts across the state threatening legal action if they did not comply with a decision last month in Cole County court that ruled some public health regulations unconstitutional.
The Missouri School Boards’ Association has told members that the ruling does not affect school districts, and that they may continue with their own protocols.
However, the effect of the threat from the attorney general has been for health departments, including in Nodaway County, to suspend some coordination with school districts on quarantine policies and contact tracing.
Starting last month, the health department only notifies school districts when a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 and will handle contact tracing for out-of-school close contacts like family members. The health department tells the district what dates a person tested positive would have been contagious, and then it is up to each individual school district to decide what to do with that information.
Since that letter, school districts have scrambled to set their own guidelines for close contacts and who is allowed to attend school in what circumstances.
Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 is still handled through the health department’s isolation protocols.
Parents will be held responsible for checking for symptoms at home and not sending sick children to school.
The new policies at North Nodaway divide close contacts into two groups: household contacts and non-household contacts.
Household contacts are considered most at risk of contracting COVID-19 because of their constant proximity to the individual who tested positive, the district’s guidelines state.
If a student is a household contact and is:
- Fully vaccinated and asymptomatic: The student can continue attending school but must properly wear a mask for 10 days. Parents will need to provide proof of vaccination.
- Not fully vaccinated: The student may not return to school until completing a 10-day quarantine at home. The student must also properly wear a mask for an additional five days at school upon return.
Non-household contacts — which include contacts who were exposed at school — will have two options regardless of vaccination status:
- Option 1: The student may quarantine at home for five days. The student will be provided with virtual learning or learning packets depending on grade level and teacher.
- Option 2: The student may continue attending school but for five days must properly wear a mask, social distance and stay asymptomatic.
If a student is either a non-household close contact or a fully vaccinated, asymptomatic household contact, they will be eligible to participate in extracurricular activities by following the test-to-stay protocols outlined by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and required by the Missouri State High School Activities Association.
Under test-to-stay protocols, a student can participate in extracurricular activities as long as they undergo three rapid antigen tests during the first seven days after notification of exposure. The tests must be performed on different days, but the individual may continue to attend school and participate in activities during that process as long as none of the rapid tests come back positive.
Additionally, the individual must be tested on the day of any extracurricular event they wish to participate in prior to the event.
The tests can come from any local health care provider or the school district, which provides free testing.
To administer those tests, though, an individual must undergo training. The only North Nodaway staff member who has undergone this training is K-12 nurse Linda Russell. Turpin noted both principals Ashley Marriott and Roger Johnson might receive the training as well so they can also administer tests.
The updated COVID-19 policy and procedures approved by the district during its Jan. 5 meeting were added to its reopening plan, per board approval.
“I think (our new COVID-19 plan) has kind of kept us from being reckless, and that was one of our goals in doing this,” Turpin said. “But also (to) give parents choices, and to try to have our kids be safe yet stay in school.”
The North Nodaway School District sent a request for qualifications to four different companies to take up several projects around the district. Ellison-Auxier Architects was the only architectural firm that came to tour the land where the proposed projects might take place. The company then sent in a proposal.
“The one thing that I do like … is they tried to look at the lifespan of the structure as one of the most important things to them,” Turpin said, adding that the firm noted it did not want to construct a building that the district would have structural issues with in 20 years.
The board approved Turpin beginning negotiations with the architectural firm.
Turpin said he would find out the company’s price when he begins these negotiations. He will then present the negotiated amount to the board at its next meeting on Jan. 19.
Turpin listed projects in the proposed bond levy in order of importance: preschool work, metal bus barn construction, a high school addition and various interior work. The bond levy would allot $2.65 million for those projects. Turpin noted certain projects might have to be forgone or altered in order to get the most out of the funds.
The use of Ellison-Auxier to complete these proposed projects is contingent on the bond levy passing in April.
“As soon as we get (Ellison-Auxier) approved, then the thing that they’re gonna really try to do is start putting some drawings together and some pricing together, so then we have some things to show people before April,” Turpin said.
- There will be two open school board positions in April’s election. Three people filed for the positions, Krista Barcus, and board incumbents Jeremie Bix and Kane Oberhauser.
- The bond levy will be presented to the board for approval at its Jan. 19 meeting.
- The board agreed to not use Martin Luther King Jr. Day to make up Dec. 16, on which the school was shut down due to a power outage. If a day of school is missed between now and MLK Day due to inclement weather, the board approved using the holiday as a makeup day.