Brent Sukut

Sidney Public Schools Superintendent Brent Sukut refers to a report during the Board of Trustees meeting October 12.

The Sidney Public School Board of Trustees announced the total amount of positive COVID-19 cases within the district and a new protocol that will be followed.

The Richland County Health Department guided the new protocol into its existence, and for the most part, for schools, the department will still do the same investigations that they have already done, Superintendent Brent Sukut said at the Board of Trustees meeting on October 12 during his superintendent report.

Now, though, when contact or potential exposure happens between two parties, and if they were both wearing masks when the close contact occurred, the person in close contact has the option to still return to school. That person would still be in a 14-day period of being monitored.

The thought is that if they both wore masks during the close contact, then the contact should be fine, Sukut said, as long as they remain asymptomatic for those 14 days and wear a mask at school. If the person becomes symptomatic, they would have to finish their quarantine from home or follow the guidance of the health department.

“That was a pretty big change,” Sukut added.

He added that on the morning of October 9, he had a meeting with all of the area superintendents, and while he does not know what they will ultimately decide, they were all in agreement at that time that if a kid falls into this monitored situation, they are not going to be able to participate in activities because technically they were still in close contact.

“It’s one thing for us to, you know we can’t put our staff and our students at risk, we can’t do that with opposing teams either. We’d be looking at a situation where you could have a potential close contact and we’re playing another team, we could infect somebody and that’s on us. We don’t want to put ourselves in that situation, we don’t want to put other communities in that situation,” Sukut said.

Even if a student is able to return to school, as long as they are listed under the monitoring they will not be able to participate in their activities for those 14 days.

Sukut said an idea was talked about of letting that student practice in isolation. If a student is under monitoring for close contact, they will have to eat lunch at school, so they cannot leave campus, Sukut said.

“That allows us to at least control and see where they’re wearing their mask. As soon as they leave, it’s out of our hands,” he said.

On top of that, a health assessment survey will be done for the student(s) that are being monitored, which consists of questions from the health department. The questions include if the student has a runny nose, sense of taste and smell, a sore throat or a cough, for example.

As of October 12, when the board met, there were 19 total positive cases, including 17 students and two staff members, according to Sukut. One of the staff members was confirmed as positive on October 12, the day of the meeting.

As of the meeting, there were still six students and one staff member in the high school who are considered active cases, and five of the cases at the high school are recovered and released from isolation.

Central Elementary School had one active case, and that person has been released from isolation. West Side had four cases, and one of the people will be released from isolation.

Sukut added that at one point, he had it figured out that there were approximately 140 students in the district who were in quarantine.

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