Updated: Sep 8, 2021
MOUND CITY – Following a shut down for "deep cleaning," students in Jayhawk USD 346 will return to classes tomorrow, Aug. 31. Student activities will also resume, said Shawn Thomas, district superintendent.
However, he "highly recommended" students and staff to wear masks, at least until the surge in COVID-19 cases has subsided.
Thomas announced Friday that the schools would be closed Monday following positive tests for COVID-19 on "a large number" of students. However, he cautioned that the tests that were given to the students were quick tests that can yield false positives – or negatives.
The decision on Friday to close down on Monday came after a large number of tests were given. "Because of the sheer number of tests that were given, we couldn't keep up," he said.
Most of the positive tests came from students who were involved in activities, he said. Jayhawk-Linn High School was to have hosted a volleyball tournament on Saturday, but the team was forced to withdraw. And the Varsity Football Jamboree scheduled for Friday night was also cancelled.
Thomas said that anybody that was a part of those affected teams was deemed to have had "close contact" and would be following the newly amended test-to-learn protocols established in conjunction with the Linn County Health Department.
Under that protocol, those students would have an option to do a modified "quarantine." To do so they could remain in school by wearing a mask and registering a negative test result for COVID-19. Under a modification of the original protocol, the test would only be given once a week. The other option is a 10-day quarantine at home.
Thomas said that events with other schools were cancelled by Jayhawk in the interest of safety. "We didn't have to cancel," he said. "We did so it so we wouldn't propagate the spread."
In a statement sent out to the district on Monday, Thomas said that wearing masks was highly recommended, particularly during the current surge in cases. "However, as masks are still considered optional, please know that we are dedicated to ensuring that all students and staff feel supported with their level of comfort in regards to mask wearing."
He also urged parents not to send children to school if they are ill. "Please, do not send your student to school if he or she is exhibiting symptoms of an illness."
In a statement sent out Monday, Jayhawk Elementary School Principal Mark Proffitt confirmed that four elementary students had also tested positive for COVID-19.
"As we stay in contact with those children that are sick, we are finding that it is spreading through the families as expected," the statement read. "We will know a lot more in the next 8 to 10 days if the virus is going to spread throughout the student population."
Noting that parents and community members held beliefs across the spectrum on COVID-19, from those considering cautions taken to prevent it a waste of time all the way to parents who are keeping their children home this year because of health issues in the family, Proffitt
strongly encouraged all children to wear a mask until the spread subsided.
He also encouraged people who are keeping their children at home to contact the school about virtual learning opportunities, but not directly through the school. "We can not offer remote learning with our local teachers," his release said.