MATT RESNICK

An uptick in COVID-19 cases has recently afflicted USD 413. Active cases for the semester last week reached a crescendo, but have since decreased from 30 to 26. Additionally, 127 are under quarantine protocols.

Superintendent Kellen Adams said USD 413’s trends mirror those of the community, and that the case increase is similar to last year’s post-Halloween timeframe. 

“This truly does not concern me, and I do not believe that it is time to hit the panic button,” Adams said. 

Adams said he prefers not to describe the recent spike as a sudden or drastic increase. 

“But rather a very steady environment, given the large number of students and staff that are a part of the overall system,” he said. “The work of our teachers, administrators, support staff and parents have helped limit the increase and we are truly grateful for that.” 

Masking is only required in congregate settings or where social distancing is not possible, and it has remained that way for the past month. Such masking policies are determined on a weekly basis at Gating Committee meetings. The Gating Committee includes district officials, as well as multiple individuals from local health entities.

“I continue to be very grateful for each member of the committee and the various agencies that have committed regular staff time each week for this important purpose,” Adams said. “This is yet another reminder of the way in which so many members of our schools and community give even more than what’s required of them for the sake of our students.”

Adams said that raising the restriction level requires one week of Gating Committee data, while two weeks of data is necessary to trigger the easing of restrictions. Protocols are adjusted through a formula that calculates active cases and close contact exposures, and is based on the percentage of the district’s total students and staff.

“Positive cases alone don’t trigger protocol adjustments,” Adams said. “If by the next gating committee meeting (Dec. 1) the exposure figure suggests Red protocol, it would be activated.”

Implementation of the district’s color-coded system in early September has been effective, according to Adams.

“We have been able to continue in-person classes with no widespread interruption through Thanksgiving break,” Adams said. “That is no small accomplishment and a testament to the people we have working behind the scenes to make all of this possible.

Adams said that the district’s primary objectives include classroom attendance and safety.

“The color-coded system, alongside vaccinations, social distancing when possible, and good hand hygiene continue to be effective tools,” Adams said.

Despite having exceeded the state’s minimum threshold for categorization  of an active COVID-19 cluster on multiple occasions this semester, USD 413 buildings have never been listed on Kansas Department of Health Environment’s active-cluster report. Adams said he believes the data is being reported correctly to the state. 

“We are not aware of any issues or discrepancies with regard to the information integrity or submission,” he said. “We report all screening/testing information through LabExchange (online portal). This is the reporting platform that accompanies the Binax testing protocol that we are using as a part of the ELC grant awarded through KDHE.” 

Adams provided additional insight into the data submission process. 

“The information is entered into the portal by our nursing staff,” he said. “All screening information is reported within 24 hours, with positive test results often being entered almost immediately. This information is then sent directly to KDHE, given the parameters of the grant.”

 

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