By Matt Clevenger
For Miami Valley Today
CASSTOWN — The Miami East Local School District has announced new quarantine guidelines for students, staff and parents, allowing quarantined individuals who show no symptoms to return to school sooner.
Previous guidelines required students or staff members potentially exposed to COVID-19 to quarantine for 14 days. The new guidelines will allow potentially exposed individuals to return to school after only 10 days, if they do not exhibit any symptoms, or after seven days with a negative PCR test result.
“The Miami County Health Department, following CDC guidelines, have given our folks three options,” superintendent Dr. Todd Rappold said during the Miami East Local School District Board of Education meeting on Monday, Dec. 21. “Option number one, they can continue to quarantine for 14 days; option number two, they can quarantine for 10 days as long as they’re not experiencing any symptoms after that tenth day or option number three, they can quarantine for seven days if they go in and get a negative PCR.”
Students or staff members returning to school after only seven days will need a negative PCR test result for SARS-CoV-2 (not a rapid test), from a sample collected on day five or later after last exposure. A copy of this negative test needs to be returned to the school.
“Since the adjustments to the quarantine guidelines have been made, they have been very well-received by our parents,” Dr. Rappold said. “It’s much easier for our kids. Fourteen days could span over a three-week period, depending on when a student had been quarantined.”
“We’re just following the guidelines when we have to send somebody home,” he said. “So far, we have not had students who have been quarantined from school, being sent home because they were in close contact, who contracted or exhibited any of the symptoms.”
Parents are still encouraged to help screen students for symptoms before they get to school.
“Our parents continue to do a very nice job,” Dr. Rappold said. “Sometimes you just stay home with a runny nose, because you just don’t know; it’s better to ere on the side of caution right now.”
In other business, board of education members also voted to accept retirement letters from two district staff members, high school secretary Cris Snider and administrative assistant Christine Perry, and selected board president Mark Iiames to serve as president pro temp during the district’s annual re-organizational meeting, which will be held on Monday, Jan. 11.
Board members also voted to approve a one-year contract renewal with Miami County Transit to continue maintaining an antenna on the Miami East water tower, and voted to accept donations of $500 from Miami Valley Reporting to the Miami East athletic fund, $6,500 from the Music Boosters/Miami County Foundation for instruments for the high school band program, and $5,000 from the Miami County Foundation for risers for the elementary music program.
“Many thanks,” district treasurer Lisa Fahncke said. “The Miami County Foundation and the music boosters do so many things for us throughout the year, that really helps our music program. I know our music instructors are very, very thankful for the donation.”
Board members also announced that the district’s free lunch program has been extended, and expressed thanks for assistance from the Lostcreek Township Trustees with CARES act funding for COVID-related expenses.
“The Lostcreek Trustees have just been phenomenal, working with them over the last six weeks as they have worked with us to allow us access to some of their CARES Act funding,” Dr. Rappold said. “We have used the CARES Act money for a variety of COVID-related costs for the district, including disinfectant sprays, wipes, and final forms that we’re going to use so that parents can complete some of their paperwork online. That was probably the most-requested item in the spring and summer.”
“Lostcreek was super to work with,” Dr. Rappold said. “That certainly helped the district.”
The district’s free lunch program has also been extended, through a separate grant.
“Our school lunch program grant was approved on Friday afternoon, and allows our students in grades k-12 to continue to take advantage of the free lunch program through the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year,” Dr. Rappold said.
“We’re very appreciative of everyone’s efforts there,” Dr. Rappold said. “Our kids have really taken advantage of that program. Originally, it was going to conclude at the end of this month, and instead it’s been extended.”
Board members ended their meeting by adjourning to executive session, to discuss the contract of a public employee. The board of education’s next regularly scheduled meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 11 at Miami East High School.