When: January 11, Elizabethtown Area School Board Workshop Meeting.
What happened: School board members agreed to shorten the quarantine time for students who test positive for COVID-19 from 10 days to five days. Those students may return on the sixth day, but must wear a mask until the tenth. (The district’s health and safety plan allows masks to be optional for those without a positive test.) This change is consistent with a recent recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Details: This applies to students when they are indoors, are asymptomatic, or if their symptoms resolve – meaning they have been without a fever for 24 hours – regardless of the activity. Students who do not want to wear a mask on days six to ten will be in isolation for the entire 10 days. District personnel who tested positive would self-isolate for five days and return to work on the sixth day wearing required masks. Symptomatic students would also be quarantined for five days pending a negative COVID-19 test result or an alternative diagnosis from a doctor. Those without the negative test result or other diagnosis — that is, a diagnosis that explains their symptoms that are not COVID-19 — can return on the sixth day with the required masking until the tenth. Students are allowed to quarantine for another 10 days.
Contact tracing: Quarantining asymptomatic students who have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 is at the discretion of the parent/guardian. Individuals who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and who are asymptomatic are strongly encouraged to wear a mask for 10 days regardless of vaccination status. The policy is effective Tuesday, January 18.
citable: Board member Danielle Lindemuth described the new quarantine plan as a “great solution” and “very comprehensive, and it offers some freedoms to our parents while protecting our students.” Her husband and fellow board member Stephen Lindemuth urged those who are “strictly mask optional” to comply with the quarantine mask requirement. “If you’re going into battle, just keep your kid at home for the full 10 days,” he said. “But I do think we have to work together and find a middle ground here.”
Potential cost savings: Vice President Michael Martin, who opposed previous property tax hikes, asked the government to come up with $1 million in potential cuts, which would equate to a tax increase of about 3%. This is in addition to the projected $700,000 savings in operational costs if the board decides to close Rheems and Mill Road primary schools in February. Board members voted 5-4 in favor of instructing the administration to recommend possible cuts.
citable: “In my time on the board, the voice of those really affected by tax increases was not strong enough,” Martin said. Board members Craig Hummer and Caroline Lalvani, who were not in favor of additional austerity measures, warned against the review. Hummer noted that the administration is already looking for ways to cut costs, for example through staff turnover. Lalvani fears the loss of programs. “We have a healthy school district because of the programming we have,” she said.
Programs: The board heard about a proposed partnership between the district and Elizabethtown College called Etown Edge, an online learning platform where students can obtain industry-based “micro-credentials” in areas such as computer applications and digital marketing. The board also heard an update on the high school’s new welding program.
What’s nextSchool Board meets at 6:00 PM on January 25 at the High School Library, 600 E. High St., Elizabethtown, unless otherwise noted.