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Rapid City school board changes student quarantine policy
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Rapid City school board changes student quarantine policy

Rapid City Area Schools

Students in Rapid City Area Schools who are identified as close contacts and remain asymptomatic no longer have to quarantine for 14 days, but for seven days following a 6-0 board vote Tuesday night.

As of Tuesday morning, the district had 218 total active and recovered cases of COVID-19 including 23 active cases among staff and 58 among students. More than 620 students and 55 staff members were in quarantine following exposure.

Superintendent Lori Simon said she brought forth this resolution to the school board because of the 525 students who have completed quarantine following COVID-19 exposure this far, only 15 have become a positive case, she said.

Half of the students who tested positive during their quarantine came from family exposure, while the other half tested positive following activities — either in the school district or in one’s personal life — where no masks were worn, Simon said.

Fourteen of the 15 students tested positive within 48 hours or two days into their quarantine, while the other case tested positive in three days’ time, Simon said.

Local health officials told Simon that five days after exposure, 50% of people who are going to become positive for COVID-19 will test positive, she said. Seven days after exposure, another 75% test positive, she said.

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By day eight when students would come back, “the likelihood of that small percentage of students becoming positive and exposing others in an environment where all people are wearing masks, in the opinion of medical officials, is ‘very, very low,’” Simon said.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Holly Perli spoke in opposition of the resolution before it passed and pointed to consistent messaging from health organizations that “although rare,” symptoms can present as late as 11 days after exposure, she said.

In response to that comment, Simon later said she would remind students, staff and families to wear masks outside of the school day and in social situations.

The board voted 5-0 to change the language to the definitions of each level of the district’s COVID-19 response, and an alteration to the mask policy.

Level 1 definition will change from “minimal” cases to “no/low” cases in a school or across the district. Level 2 definition will change from “confirmed” cases in a school or district to “increasing or some escalation” of cases. Level 3 will denote a “quick or significant escalation of confirmed cases.”

Per the board’s vote, masks are now mandatory outside of classrooms in hallways and bathrooms at both Level 1 and 2, excluding recess and outdoors.

The school board also voted to authorize the district to submit the Title III Immigrant Grant application to the state for this school year in the amount of $10,000.

As many as 79 immigrant students have been identified in RCAS. The grant would contract a family liaison and outreach coordinator to provide for family literacy, parent and family outreach and recruitment, and support for personnel who have been trained to provide services to immigrant children.

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