Maize Public Schools eliminates daily COVID testing after high-risk contacts top 200

MAIZE, Kan. (KWCH) - Following its first week of school, Maize Public Schools say it is no longer testing high-risk COVID-19 exposures. The district said in its first week of classes, 15 students and three staff members tested positive for the virus resulting in 219 high-risk close contacts.

A high-risk contact is someone who is unmasked and had contact less than a 6-foot distance from a person who has tested positive for COVID, according to the district.

“Due to the low percentage of students wearing face masks in school, each positive case identified resulted in large numbers of high-risk close contacts. Subsequently, school nurses and administrators devoted half of a school day or more to contact tracing and facilitating COVID tests for those who were participating in the internal test-to-learn option,” said USD 266 Superintendent Dr. Chad Higgins in a note to parents. “Simply put, the continuation of daily COVID testing at school at this rate is not sustainable. It would otherwise result in hundreds of daily tests.”

The district said students who are deemed high-risk contacts and choose the “test-to-learn” option, or wish to remain in school, must show daily proof of a negative rapid test from the evening before for seven days. Testing will have to be scheduled off-site, and results from at-home COVID tests will not be accepted. Students must also wear a face mask during their identified seven days, even with a daily negative test.

Those who are masked, vaccinated, and/or have proof of a positive COVID test in the past six months may remain in school and monitor symptoms following contact with someone who tested positive for COVID.

Higgins is asking more parents to consider sending their children to school with masks and get vaccinated if they are eligible.

“For each student, the best opportunity to stay in school is to wear a face mask daily and/or, for those ages 12 and older, to get their COVID vaccination,” said Higgins. “Otherwise, students face the risk of being out of school for seven days and missing opportunities to participate in school-related activities following a high-risk contact. Please help us keep as many students in school as possible for the sake of their education.”

The district will continue to provide daily COVID tests at school for those who were exposed during the first week of classes and opted to stay in school while testing daily. The district said it will also continue testing students who feel ill while at school and go to the nurse’s office with symptoms. Students and employees will wait in a designated isolation area while they away results.

If a Maize student tests positive for COVID-19, the district said they need to follow Sedgwick County guidelines and quarantine for 10-14 days. They do not need to provide a negative test to return to school.

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