MASSENA — A member of the Massena Central School Board says he is unhappy with the new protocols regarding the school’s role in contact tracing and quarantining and the impact it could have on education of a student.
Superintendent Patrick H. Brady told council members Thursday evening that the state Department of Health issued new guidelines last week on pandemic protocols, including contact tracing and quarantine. He also provided a chart for determining when to isolate or quarantine based on symptoms and vaccination status.
“Yesterday the regional superintendents met with public health and discussed the new guidelines. Today I met with our board of directors and the chief planning nurse here,” Mr Brady said.
New information for parents and staff “about what it will look like in the future” was due out on Friday, he said.
He said one of the biggest changes from the new guidelines was that the state DOH and the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department would no longer conduct contact tracing.
“That means people exposed to COVID-19, look at the seating charts and come in and nail it down to a few students and make these kinds of one-on-one calls. It will be more of a general statement that there have been cases at the ninth or third year level and then releasing that information,” Brady said.
Board member Kevin F. Perretta asked why the district would want to continue to follow these guidelines.
He said he looked closely at the corresponding policy “voted against because I thought it was rubbish if you want to look back.”
“I didn’t like that we had the ability to take away a student’s right to education when they sneeze because it’s a symptom,” Perretta said. “Ultimately, it’s a symptom. That’s where we went.
“I think it’s been well established through this pandemic that schools have the ability to do that, to keep students safe, and we’ve had that under communicable disease,” Brady said.
He said the guidelines followed by the district came from the county public health department.
“In fact, they’re really asking us now that schools should at least let parents know if they’re a close contact,” Brady said.
“So are we going to send them home if they show up and they’re a close contact?” asked Mr. Perretta.
“We are moving to self-reporting, more self-reporting by families rather than contact tracing,” Mr Brady said.
Mr Perretta said he was trying to ‘bring it down to what we are allowed to do and not allowed to do by policy and/or law’.
“I know what we did. They just took away what we were cluttered with before,” he said. “So that’s why I’m asking, why are we going to keep doing this?”
Test kits, which were distributed to families who requested them, could play a role in determining a student’s status before coming to school.
“So we can send that test home with a student and have them tested to see if they have COVID so they can go back to school,” he said.
Board member Loren Fountaine said sending test kits home to the families of someone who might be a close contact seemed like “a pretty solid solution”.
“It’s only if you have symptoms, because otherwise we don’t have the right to make them do anything,” Mr Perretta said.
” I’m not saying that. I’m just saying it’s a responsible thing to do if you’ve been in close contact to get tested,’ Mr Fountaine said. “Of course, children have a right to public education. People also have the right not to be affected by someone on purpose, but I’ve seen people say, “Go spread it.”
“We have to be careful in the sense that there is a part of our population that, if they get this, it’s not just the flu. It is life threatening,” Mr. Fountaine added. “We can’t just say, ‘Well, get the flu and get over it. I think that’s a very simplistic way of putting it. Most people will be fine with it. »
Mr. Perretta said he was not trying to downplay the issue.
“What I’m looking at is what our role is here. We are here to represent the children, not the elderly,” Mr. Perretta said. “If you want to see what our role is, what has happened to the children in the last two years? It will last a long, long time. If you look at what we’re doing with these kids and what’s happening, how are we going to get out of this? All the data shows that you can’t catch them once you lose them.
Mr Brady said the district is working on it.
“We have worked and our staff have worked, our administrators, our nurses to keep the doors open all year round. Believe me, there have been times (the neighborhood could have closed) because of quarantine issues. Now, with 92 cases at school last week and 46 the week before and all close contacts, we are just fighting to add staff to stay. But, we fought to keep it open,” Mr. Brady said. “I see this as a progression. We are going in the right direction. We are starting and we have learned a lot through this process.