Six days before the start of school, Rapid City Area Schools reports it has 13 staff and seven students with active COVID-19 cases. Another 31 close contacts are quarantined and monitoring for symptoms after potential exposure.
The district will not specify which schools have the cases, spokeswoman Katy Urban said Wednesday, citing privacy concerns with HIPAA and FERPA. HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, prohibits entities from releasing identifiable patient information, such as names and personal information.
The Journal, however, did not seek the names of those infected but the names of the schools that had the cases.
Urban said the information RCAS won’t share parallels the response of other schools across the state, like the Sioux Falls School District, and country.
“We want to keep the community informed on the number of positive cases we have in the district,” Urban said. “However, we have an obligation to protect the privacy interests of students and staff.”
Urban also said the district isn’t concerned with going to Level 3 (off-campus learning) for any of the schools affected yet, noting this is a fluid situation.
The district and state health department have protocol in place to alert those who have had close contacts with those who test positive for COVID-19, and students, parents and staff will be notified of the existence of a positive test “when necessary,” Urban said.
Each time the district learns of a positive test, it will send a general notification letter to staff and families at each school with a positive case. From there, either Department of Health staff or RCAS nurses will begin to contact trace.
The Journal obtained such a letter Wednesday for Stevens High School that notified of an exposure at last week’s school registration but did not provide a number of cases.
Urban also said staff will receive an email each day with the number of new cases and a list of locations with the new cases “to make sure our staff who travel between buildings know where the positive cases are.” The public won’t receive that information.
The district will launch a data dashboard Sept. 14 that will list the number of active cases, recovered cases and those in quarantine, Urban said.
As of Wednesday, 51 staff and students are quarantined across the district — 20 active cases and 31 monitoring for symptoms after exposure.