POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Board of Education met on Tuesday evening to continue discussing the re-entry plan for the upcoming school year.
All five board members were present at the meeting — President Dale Shobe, Vice President Rhonda Tennant, Jared Billings, Meagan Bonecutter and Ashley Cossin.
During the meeting, the board was given a report from school nurses, Samantha Knapp and Lydia Gordon. Knapp and Gordon spoke about the plans and procedures that nurses in all buildings will be adopting. These plans were formed from state resources and with the guidance from the county health department. Knapp said the key to making these plans work is to communicate and educate.
Nurses have information for parents and guardians regarding home screenings, symptoms, emergency contacts, masks, etc. This information will teach parents how to care for masks and how to properly apply them.
There will also be information given to teachers and staff. Knapp said the staff must communicate with the nurses and administrators, who will then communicate throughout the county and with the health department.
Knapp also said that teachers and bus drivers will have to be very thorough with attendance, because that will be used for contact tracing if there is a sick student or staff member.
Gordon said that the health department suggested on Tuesday that all nurses wear surgical or N-95 masks.
Teachers and staff members will have to communicate to reduce congestion in the nurses office. Gordon said that teachers will be able to take care of minor issues in the classroom with first aid kits.
Gordon said that the nurses will be contacting parents of children with chronic conditions to speak with them about their options for virtual schools.
Each school will have to have an isolation area for those with COVID-19 symptoms. There will be dismissal forms for parents to sign when taking a sick child home from the school. The form explains the next steps and when a child can return to school.
Tennant asked the nurses about a type of mask that hooks on a lanyard and can be put in a bag on the lanyard. Knapp and Gordon said they like the idea of having a bag for the mask, but worry about the lanyard being a choking hazard. Tennant said she had not seen the masks, but was told that they unhook from the lanyard with any pressure. The two nurses said they have also talked about how to store masks in the classroom. This information will be included in the teacher trainer. They are planning to have a bag for each child to store their mask.
Tennant also asked about the procedure for returning to school after presenting symptoms. Knapp and Gordon said that the school can not ask the parents to have their children tested. Parents are asked to follow up with the child’s primary physician.
If an individual tests negative for COVID-19, they can return after 24 hours with no symptoms or fever-reducing medications. If an individual tests positive for COVID-19, does not seek medical attention and has symptoms, they can return to school after answering “yes” to the following criteria: 10 days since first symptoms; a certain amount of days (to be determined later) since the last symptoms and feeling well.
If an individual is in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, they will be out of school buildings for 14 days since the last contact, even if they have a negative test result.
Bonecutter asked if a class was quarantined, including the teacher, would the second set of students that week go to remote learning or would a substitute come in? Supt. Jack Cullen said that there are many details to be worked out before then.
Cossin asked how students riding buses would be tracked during sport trips. The nurses said there will need to be a tracking system between the bus drivers and/or coaches.
Knapp and Gordon said that the county health department said if a teacher wears a surgical or N-95 mask and a permitted face shield, they may not have to be quarantined if a student in their class tests positive.
More on the board of education meeting will appear in upcoming editions of the Point Pleasant Register.
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Kayla (Hawthorne) Dunham is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, ext. 1992.