COVID Update - January 4, 2022
With revised CDC guidance and after consulting with our Pratt County Health Department, we have made some adjustments with our protocols.
Staff who are Covid positive are quarantined 5 days (or 72 hours symptom free, whichever is longer) from the date of a positive test or documentable symptoms. Per Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) guidelines, Covid-positive students are still required to quarantine for 10 days. Staff and students who are a close contact and unvaccinated (and haven’t had Covid within the last 6 months) may still continue to opt for the test-to-stay program (that requires a negative daily Covid test and wearing a facemask for five days). Asymptomatic vaccinated students/staff (or who have had Covid within the last 6 months) do not have to quarantine if they are a close contact. Modified quarantines at our elementary school will run 5 days from the last exposure. More details can be found on the usd382 webpage under the “Covid-19” tab on the “January 3rd protocol revisions” document.
In some ways, we are moving towards treating this as an endemic infection—we will continue to collaborate with our Pratt County Health Department and follow their guidance. The availability of effective vaccines has tremendously reduced the risk of hospitalization for vaccinated individuals of all ages and health conditions—Wichita Wesley hospital officials “say at least 95% of their Covid-19 patients are unvaccinated against the virus” (Wichita Eagle Jan 1). Local data mirrors those numbers. Of course, we understand we still have serious health concerns as a state and community—Wesley Hospital is also experiencing critical staffing shortages due to Covid and this is negatively impacting healthcare for all patients. Locally, we have healthcare staffing challenges as well. So far, the data still shows children to be overwhelmingly safe from contracting a severe covid infection, but that is never 100% safe. The closer we get we get to knocking this out, the closer we get to 100%, and we relieve pressure on our healthcare system.
I want to give a heartfelt thanks to our staff who continue to persevere in a challenging environment and pick up the slack for each other whenever we have been hit with a staffing shortage. But, I want to caution that I am very concerned about the next 3-4 weeks. Even with reduced quarantine times, national and international data on the Omicron variant shows a rapid acceleration of positive cases within a community. The data also shows it to be mostly a less severe variant, but hindsight is 20-20 so there is some uncertainty there. We will do whatever we can to stay open for our kids, but these next few weeks have me a bit worried.
Finally, I want to thank our healthcare professionals. They have been fighting a war for 2 years and they continue to be heroes. We are in this together and will keep up the good fight as a community.
Pratt Schools USD 382