Trevor-Wilmot, Salem School change COVID-19 protocols | Local News

Two elementary schools in western Kenosha County took action this week to virtually or temporarily close to reduce the spread of COVID-19 as more than 150 students and staff are in isolation or quarantine.

The Trevor-Wilmot Consolidated School switched to a virtual learning model on Wednesday through January 21st. On Tuesday, 33 students and 6 employees tested positive for COVID-19 and 126 students and 2 employees were in quarantine because they had close contact. This corresponds to around 25% of the school population.

The switch to virtual lessons was preceded by a mandatory mask protocol on Tuesday. The school stayed open that day so students could collect materials to prepare for the move to virtual classes.

“With approximately 25% of our building at home with COVID-19 or in quarantine, we are confident that social distancing, masking and hand sanitizing can be effectively used on Tuesday to contain the spread of COVID-19,” wrote Administrator Michelle Garven in a letter to parents announcing the changes.

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Salem Grade School announced that there will be no classes on Friday “due to staff shortages and student illness”. On Tuesday, 35 students and employees were COVID-19 positive.

The school will also be closed on Monday 17th January, a pre-scheduled teacher service day, with no school to students. School is slated to return to class on Tuesday.

“We will close the building so that our employees can get well, disinfect the building and work on the virtual lesson planning for the many students who are in quarantine or who have to catch up on their daily work,” wrote administrator Connie Valenza in a letter to the parents.

The school was at or near the threshold of cases that would have triggered a mask mandate. Closing the school for two days will prevent the district from taking this measure for five consecutive days.

“As a result, we will also reset our COVID update numbers above 22 from Tuesday, January 18,” the letter said. “At this point in time, the vast majority of our students and staff contracted COVID from household members outside of school and during recess.”

According to the letter, this “reset” is used because the school has not seen “widespread evidence of dissemination in the classroom”.

“While we continue to strongly recommend that all staff and students wear face coverings, we will postpone switching to the orange protocol level until we have 5 consecutive days over 22 after this reset,” the letter said.

Both districts will also implement the new guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding reduced isolation and quarantine times for employees only. The guidelines call for a five-day isolation period, followed by a five-day mask requirement “if the employee is symptom-free or symptoms have improved dramatically and has been free of fever for 24 hours”.

The Salem School announced that it will make the following changes for students who have close contacts on a positive case:

A five-day quarantine is required for students who have close contact at school or for short-term, non-household contact; with return to school on the sixth day, if symptom-free.

In the case of close contacts in the household (i.e. family members or household members who cannot separate), the student can return to school on the sixth day, provided the student has a negative COVID test on the fifth day or later.

The Trevor-Wilmot School Board discussed the implementation of new isolation and quarantine rules in the near future.

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