Allegheny Valley School Board approves health and safety plan without contact tracing

Students in the Allegheny Valley School District will not have to self-quarantine if they come into close contact with a student who tests positive for covid-19.

School board members voted 8-0 to approve the district’s health and safety plan, which eliminates contact tracing, at their meeting on Tuesday. Board member Jessica Griggle was absent.

One of the main concerns expressed by board members in previous meetings was how to handle contact tracing.

The board was presented with two plans Tuesday by Superintendent Patrick Graczyk.

One plan included looking for contracts, while the other did not. The council opted for the second plan because it closely follows the latest guidelines set by the CDC and the Allegheny County Health Department.

The CDC announced on August 11 that it would relax its guidelines on covid-19. The guidelines state that people no longer have to self-quarantine if they come into close contact with someone who has covid. The CDC also said people no longer had to adhere to social distancing guidelines of staying 6 feet from others.

Council Treasurer Steve Puskar asked if the council would be able to return to contact tracing if the CDC reverses its decision.

“Let’s say the day after a board meeting, the CDC changes and we don’t have anything in the health and safety plan that allows us to go back to looking for contracts,” Puskar said.

Attorney Matthew Hoffman said the board would be able to make changes to the plan if needed.

Graczyk said frustration with the situation in the past had more to do with quarantine than contact tracing itself. The school district wants to remain diligent in ensuring the health and safety of students, he said.

“So if we know if you had kids at school, we want to at least let you know, we think your kids were exposed and you want to monitor what’s going on,” he said.

David Buchman, another board member, assured Puskar that the CDC would not return to contact tracing soon.

“The changes that they just announced between the last meeting and this meeting have been under discussion for three or four weeks now and have been expected for several weeks,” he said. “They’re not the fastest when it comes to making changes of this magnitude.”

Council Chairman Larry Pollick said the district has reached a point where covid is not disrupting student education.

“Since it started it was terrible,” he said. “We had virtual learning. This is an adjustment we will be voting on today to allow our students a normal environment.

Tanisha Thomas is the editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Tanisha by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .