Colman-Egan School officials are again asking families to consider sending their children to school with masks as the number of students and staff out with COVID, strep, and the flu continues to rise. As of midweek this past week, nearly a quarter of the student population had called in sick along with several staff.
The snow day last Friday, Jan. 14, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Monday, in many ways could not have come at a better time. Superintendent Brian Corlett sent the following COVID specific message home to parents on Thursday after a School Board Meeting and given the new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
“After last night the new CDC recommendations on return from COVID positive tests will be put in place by the district. This means that a person may return 5 days after the onset of symptoms if they are symptom free and especially fever free. They will need to wear a mask for 5 additional days. Additionally, the district Highly Recommends the wearing of masks for the near future as we are starting to see an increase in positive cases in our schools. We hope this will help to quell the trend we have been experiencing. Thanks for your support of our district.”
The School Board in Flandreau ruled this past week to adopt the same CDC upgraded guidelines. Any positive diagnosis for COVID means students have to stay home for at least five days after the onset of symptoms. Students may return to school after the five-day quarantine if they are symptom free, but a mask must be worn for the next five days. Siblings and other close contacts will not need to be quarantined if they are symptom free, but they are encouraged to wear a mask for a five-day period as well after exposure.
Colman-Egan Schools aren’t the only facilities experiencing high levels of illness. Many local businesses and other area school districts are also seeing an increasing number of children and adults out sick, a trend reflected nationwide as well. Flu activity is currently considered moderate throughout the state, COVID is currently considered a high level of spread with 166 confirmed active cases in the county as of Sunday night.
While there have been shortages of tests nationally, four free at-home rapid COVID tests are supposed to become available through the CDC for each household starting January 19th. For more information, you can log onto COVIDTests.gov. The tests are said to ship within 7-12 days of ordering. Private health insurance companies, as of January 15th, are also being mandated to fully cover the cost of at-home COVID-19 tests.