The Middleton School District board of trustees voted to shorten the quarantine period for students and staff who were exposed to COVID-19.
The district is following the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Southwest District Health that says people can end quarantine after 10 days if no symptoms are reported or end quarantine after seven days if an individual tests negative and also reports no symptoms. However, SWDH and the CDC require that people still maintain social distancing and masks for the full 14 days. The district removed that requirement to allow students to be in school full time, without having a 14-day quarantine.
The board of trustees made the move against the guidance of Middleton School District Superintendent Kristin Beck. Her recommendation was to keep the 14-day quarantine.
“If we shorten this quarantine period, and allow students to return to school before the 14-day mark has ended, we increase the risk of more staff contracting the virus,” Beck said in an email to trustees.
The trustees’ vote was not unanimous, Trustee Aleisha McConkie abstained from the vote, citing bias, and Trustee Jake Dempsey voted against it.
Beck also cited staffing concerns in her recommendation to keep the 14-day quarantine. She said from Dec. 7 to Dec. 11, the district saw upwards of 10 percent of its staff absent.
“Last week the district was on the brink of closing some programs and sending students home because of staffing concerns,” Beck said in her email.
To address these concerns, the board voted that if the district reaches a 5 percent positivity rate, or if about 215 staff and students are positive for COVID-19, within a 14-day period the district will close schools for a minimum of two weeks. The vote was unanimous.
Beck was also concerned with a number of students and staff not wearing masks in some school buildings. It is district policy that masks be worn at all times when social distancing cannot be maintained.