Soldotna Montessori Charter School became the latest peninsula school to move to universal indoor masking for staff and students Monday in response to high COVID-19 case numbers among the school community, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Communications Director Pegge Erkeneff confirmed Tuesday.
Soldotna Montessori Charter School had a school community COVID positivity rate of 7.18% on Tuesday, with 13 people testing positive in the last week. The school’s universal masking policy is in effect through Oct. 25, when it will be reevaluated.
As of Tuesday, eight KPBSD schools were operating with universal indoor masking for staff and students. Schools operating with universal indoor masking on Tuesday included Cooper Landing School, Fireweed Academy, Port Graham School, River City Academy, Skyview Middle School, Soldotna High School, Soldotna Montessori Charter School, Susan B. English School, Tebughna School and Tustumena Elementary School.
Since the school district began formally tracking cases of COVID-19 in schools on Aug. 23, 621 positive test results from students and 114 positive test results from staff have been reported. Those figures include 74 positive results from students and 20 positive results from staff from the last seven days.
In determining whether a school moves in or out of universal indoor masking, KPBSD uses criteria outlined in revisions to the district’s COVID-19 mitigation plan announced earlier this month.
A “conversation” between district administrators and school site administrators is triggered when a school district meets four out of five criteria outlined in the plan. Factors considered include a school community positivity rate of 3% or higher, a student absenteeism rate of 25% or higher, local and regional hospital and ICU capacity, a community’s COVID-19 case count per 100,000 people and the impact of a schools staff absenteeism rate.
People can confidentially report a positive COVID-19 test for themselves or their child to their school nurse or to Nurse. Melisa Miller by calling 907-260-2391 or by emailing MMiller@kpbsd.k12.ak.us.
KPBSD quarantine protocols
Unvaccinated, asymptomatic close contacts of someone who is COVID-positive must immediately quarantine. They can return to school one to two weeks after exposure once cleared by public health.
Unvaccinated, symptomatic close contacts of someone who is COVID-positive must immediately isolate. If that person tests positive, they must keep isolating. If they test negative, they must stay home while symptomatic or until finished with seven- to 14-day quarantine, whichever is longer, then talk to a health care provider and consider testing again before returning to school.
Vaccinated, asymptomatic close contacts of someone who is COVID-positive do not need to quarantine. They must get tested within three to five days of exposure, must wear a mask for 14 days and should carefully monitor for symptoms over the next two weeks.
Vaccinated, symptomatic close contacts of someone who is COVID-positive must get tested and immediately isolate. If that person tests positive, they must keep isolating. If they test negative, they must stay home while symptomatic, then talk to a health care provider and consider testing again before returning to school.
Regardless of vaccination status, symptomatic individuals with no known contact should immediately get tested and stay home. A positive test means that person must isolate for 10 days. A negative test means that person should stay home while symptomatic, then talk to a health care provider and consider testing again before returning to school.
The CDC distinguishes between quarantine and isolation. Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick, while quarantine restricts people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.
KPBSD’s full COVID-19 mitigation plan, as well as community case numbers and quarantine protocols for vaccinated and unvaccinated students is available on the district’s COVID-19 website at covid19.kpbsd.org.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at firstname.lastname@example.org.