ATLANTIC – Atlantic Superintendent Steve Barber raised concerns Wednesday on a new strategy from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) regarding quarantining after testing positive for COVID-19.
The CDC recommended a 5 + 5 strategy, which means after testing positive individuals need to quarantine for five days, and can resume normal activity but need to wear a mask for another five days. The district currently has a policy to quarantine for 10 days. The board took no action on changing the policy, but agreed to discuss it at a future meeting.
Barber said state officials have said individuals who have tested positive are still contagious six to 10 days afterward, and he’s concerned they will still be contagious and worries about having them back among the staff and students. He’s also concerned that people won’t wear masks as recommended.
“According to the State Epidemiology, individuals who have tested positive are contagious from days 6-10. In the 5 + 5 mitigation strategy individuals would need to wear a mask at all times during this time period,” Barber said in his report. “How do we ensure our students and staff will meet this guideline when compliance to masking has always been a challenge? I struggle allowing individuals that we know based on science are contagious (and) in the building.”
Barber is also concerned that people may not be truthful when it comes to reporting symptoms to school officials because they want to participate in different activities and/or attend school. He said Cass County Public Health Director Beth Olsen and District Registered Nurse Laura Freund shared his concerns.
Board member Kristy Pellett said whatever the board decides, it’s important to get the word out because most people have heard about the 5 + 5 strategy, and assumed that is the guidance to follow.
“Everyone thinks this is the new standard,” Pellett said. “(They may say) I feel good. I don’t have any symptoms any more. And it’s five days (to quarantine).”
Board President Jenny Williams said some adults could be concerned about being away from work for a long period and not getting paid, and Pellett added that there could be some concern from parents about staying home with a sick child.