Faribault School Board Votes Encouraging Masks But Optional
The Faribault Public School Board held a meeting that last over 3 hours tonight. Much of the discussion surrounded what COVID-19 protocols should be in place.
After voting down 5 amendment attempts the board voted 5-2 to accept the protocols recommended by the District's Incident Command Center Team (ICC).
Here are the protocols the ICC recommended and were adopted by the School Board:
- "Vaccination for those 12 and older is the best tool we have to fight COVID-19. All three of the available vaccines are safe, free and highly effective. The vaccine has gone through the same safety steps and studies as the other vaccines our children routinely get. While a fully vaccinated person may be able to pass the disease to others, the health experts we've consulted with tell us a vaccinated person is much less likely to become infected, and if they do, their illness is less likely to be severe."
- "Face coverings are strongly recommended for all Faribault Public Schools students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, when inside district buildings. Masks are still required when riding the school bus."
- Physical Distancing: "Staff will take reasonable steps to provide spacing between students whenever possible."
- Self-Screening: "Students and staff are expected to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms daily before coming to school. Those experiencing any symptoms should follow the COVID-19 Decision Tree to determine if they should attend school.
- Cleaning and Hygiene: "Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of classrooms and common areas will continue. Healthy hygiene behaviors, such as regular hand washing, are strongly recommended.
- Handling suspected or confirmed cases: "The district health and safety manager will report cases of COVID-19 to the Minnesota Department of Health. Staff and families should self-report to the s chool if they or their student have symptoms of COVID-19, test positive for COVID-19, or recently had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19."
- Isolation: " Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 must isolate themselves by staying home from school until all three of the following are true: 1. They are asymptomatic, 2. It has been 10 days since they first felt sick or tested positivem and 3. They have had no fever for at least 24 hours, without using fever-reducing medicine."
- Visitors and volunteers: "Are welcome. All sites and programs will keep a roster of visitors and volunteers (name, contact information, date, time, program, site, etc) as practicable. Volunteers may be asked their vaccination status if they will be working directly with students."
The ICC protocols furthur state, "Students or staff with a member of their household who tested positive for COVID-19 should follow the COVID-19 Decision Tree to determine if the individual needs to quarantine. Students displaying at least one common symptom or two less common symptoms should also follow the COVID-19 Decision Tree. Families should contact their school nurse if they have any questions."
"Families will be notified of close-contact exposure to someone who tests positive for COVID-19. However, quarantine for close contact with someone at school who tested positive for COVID-19 is no longer required. The Minnesota Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control recommend that all close contacts, vaccinated or unvaccinated, get tested for COVID-19 3-5 days after exposure."
At the start of the meeting several people gave their opinions on a variety of issues. Most comments were directed toward the mask issue. Some were in favor of requiring masks and others did not want them mandated saying they did not want their personal liberties and those of their children taken away.
Board member John Bellingham said the COVID-19 protocols vote, " Hands down this is the toughest decision I've had to make as a board member. I have grandchildren in the elementary and middle school. I have former colleagues, teachers working in the schools. We have leadership working directly with teachers and kids whatever and all of these are at risk. We put those people at risk last spring, with masks, with distancing, etcetera and now we're asked to not have masks or let the people decide if they want masks."
Bellingham went on to say, "It gets really personal when you lose someone of your own family to COVID. I talk from experience. So as a board member we're all elected, we all represent every child and every parent that walks through that door. We have to put into consideration (the question) am I putting these children at risk?"
"Believe whatever science, believe whatever side, believe whatever your reading. We get it all. It is a very, very difficult decision. Ultimately I support the ICC team. In my heart and my gut I don't support it. I believe in masks. I believe in vaccines. I believe in keeping things straight. If only this would have occurred before November's election, but it didn't."
There are 35 people on the ICC team including Rice County Public Health representatives and a school board member. Representatives from each school building are included along with the Superintendent and members of his administrative team.
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