SALEM — Salem School reached a threshold of positive COVID-19 cases this week that triggered a review of safety protocols, and the School Board will survey parents on possible steps to be taken.
Administrator Connie Valenza said the plan calls for the district to “revisit the protocols at the point where we had over 10 active infections at a given time.” A case is considered an active infection when someone has been identified as testing positive for COVID and they are still within the 10-day isolation period.
“Unfortunately, we have reached that point,” Valenza wrote in communication to families. “In addition, we have a couple of student infections where we cannot rule out in-school spread. We have multiple homerooms where close contacts have been placed on quarantine, creating disruptions for families and students.”
The Board of Education will call a special meeting, but it’s first seeking input from the school community via survey. The survey is due Monday, Sept. 20.
“We know there is little agreement on the various steps available to mitigate further in-school infection, and the Board has some very difficult decisions that are unlikely to please all,” Valenza wrote in the letter. “The Board will also be considering other factors, such as staff feedback, as well.”
The online survey asks parents to indicate if they support immediate implementation of various protocols until the end of the semester, during times of high transmission and two weeks following, are neutral, or do not support various protocols regardless of transmission rate.
The possible protocols the board seeks input on in the survey are:
Universal masks for staff and students while indoors.
School entry temperature checks.
Full homeroom/classroom quarantines when there is a positive case in the class.
Increased social distancing.
Elimination of in-person club and athletic activities.
Elimination of in-person family and community events.
Eliminating the sharing of materials and checking out of library books.
Limiting visitors to the building.
“Last year, we had a significant number of safety protocols in place and, although we had cases, we did not see clear cases of in-school spread,” Valenza said. “We also did not experience the rapid increase in numbers.”
Valenza said Kenosha County Public Health has shared that it will intervene and require a move to virtual instruction for all students if a school reaches a 3% active infection level.
“For our school, 3% is approximately 30 cases,” Valenza said. “We believe there is public support for taking steps prior to that happening.”