GREENDALE, Wis. — In January, the Greendale School District will make updates to its Health Safety Plan, including how quarantines will be enforced as well as mask recommendations, according to Superintendent Kim Amidzich.
Effective January 3, the district will notify all families in the classroom of a positive COVID-19 case, but the district will not require close contacts to quarantine. Parents will have the choice to quarantine their child and/or have their child take a rapid antigen test at a district's testing clinic. Quarantines will be enforced for students with a positive case of COVID-19 at home.
Effective January 31, the school district will strongly recommend masks for students in grades K through 6. Students enrolled in Early Childhood and Time 4 Learning classes will be required to wear face masks.
The amendments come as Greendale High School reported a high number of positive cases Tuesday, resulting in the inability to do proper contact tracing among students, according to an email sent to parents. Tuesday was the last day of school for the year, so the high school decided to send an email to all families.
In addition to these amendments, the school board advised that the district develops a gating criteria to address a course of action dependent on case activity. That plan will be outlined in the board meeting on January 10.
Greendale's Board of Education voted 3 to 2 to make the changes during a meeting on Monday. Some people who attended including a teacher supported scaling back the safety measures.
"Covid is here to stay. Many are vaccinated if they have chosen let's move on. The updated safety plan needs to eliminate close contact contact tracing and test to stay policies," said one parent.
"The problem is right now we're putting kids into quarantine that are not sick, and they don't have COVID, and they don't have symptoms," said a 6th grade teacher. He went on to explain teaching student in-person and at home simultaneously was a disservice to kids.
Given the recent rise COVID cases and hospitalizations and the expanding omicron variant some parents and teachers argued now is not the time to roll back mitigation measures.
"I'm not sure I understand the philosophy behind their changes. I really worry how much illness is going to be in the school in January when they removed all their safety protocols or most of them and then have instituted no measures like a stopgap measure," said parent Tassia Hughes.
"I think waiting and watching and being very aware of the situation in our larger area, how our hospitals are and how the infection rates in the neighboring communities is very important to be watching as well because we're all connected to one another," said parent Melissa Bock.
"I don't speak for all teachers, but the ones that I have talked to are really concerned specifically just with the landscape that we're currently in at a local, state, and global level and how reducing our mitigation measures really makes us less prepared to react and to keep students and staff safe," said Greendale Education Association president Zachary Geiger.
The Greendale Schools COVID dashboard showed most recently that there were 86 new cases in the past 7 days (12/17/2022 reporting), 13.2% positivity rate in the Village of Greendale, and 43 school positive cases (reported 12/20 and 12/21). The new case and positivity rate data points break the measurement threshold noted on the dashboard.