By ROD ZOOK
HUTCHINSON, Kan. — It was HMS-8’s turn to host Hutchinson USD 308 School Board members as part of Monday's meeting.
The board approved what it hopes will be another tool in efforts to curb the pandemic in schools as members approved a grant application for a Test-To-Stay program.
“If we were awarded the grant, we would go back and visit the board about changing our policy,” Superintendent Mike Folks said. “That’s what I was trying to do is to put another tool in the tool bag to help keep kids and staff in school.”
Folks says, if they get the grant funding, it wont change current COVID policies in the school, just add to what is available to the district.
“Listening to some of the larger school districts that have been awarded the grant, there’s quite a few resources that are available that can be utilized to help our nurses,” Folks said.
Under the current policy, if a student is exposed at school, parents will have some say in whether their child goes to class or not. What that means is if a parent wants to send their child to school, making sure they are symptom free and wearing a mask, the student can attend class. If the exposure happens outside the school, such as at home, then parents must work with the health department and quarantine the student. That policy would remain. The new grant could be used to test students who fall outside of the current policy.
“If we get this grant, we’re not changing our current policy,” Folks said. “If we have students that fall outside of that exposure that we could possibly test (Test-To-Stay) or test-to-know would probably be a better way to explain it.”
Folks says the current policy has been working in the district and they hope it continues to keep more students in the classroom.
“I would say that 95% (of parents) have been sending their kids to school after they have been exposed at school, and our numbers continue to decline,” Folks said. “It’s been a lot easier on our nursing staff and a lot better for kids and our staff. So we plan on staying the course with our masking for right now. I thought we should apply and just see if there was one more thing we could do to help kids and help staff.”
Before the meeting, the board toured the facilities.
Two eighth graders, Kieryn Bain and Bennett Gardner, greeted board members and district leadership before the tour began. The students were nominated by their teachers to be greeters on academic standing and involvement within their school.