WCSD shorten COVID isolation period to five days

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 12:38 AM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - The Washoe County School District is shortening its isolation period to five days.

Tuesday’s 6-1 vote updates COVID-19 guidelines to align with recent recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control or CDC.

Starting Wednesday, students and staff who test positive, had symptoms or have been excluded due to exposure can go back to school after five days, as long as they are asymptomatic.

Following their return, they will need to follow mask requirements.

“What it will do is allow students to not be excluded as much if they are not showing any symptoms,” said board president Dr. Angie Taylor. “They can cut that time down, as well as staff members if they aren’t showing any symptoms, they can go back and go back safely as long as they’re wearing the mask.”

The new guidance comes after hundreds of absences by teachers and thousands by students since the return from winter break.

The district continues to experience a shortage of bus drivers and substitute teachers.

During the public meeting, Deputy Superintendent Debra Biersdorff, announced Superintendent Kristen McNeill will be pitching in as a substitute at Poulakidas Elementary School on Wednesday, and that the district has measures in place in case distance learning is needed.

“Everybody with a license is out doing whatever they can but I can’t say is absolutely never ever going to happen, but we’re doing everything that we can so it doesn’t,” said Taylor.

During public comment, parents expressed discontent with isolation and the need for masks.

Testing policies will remain the same, although supply chain issues have impacted test availability.

The school district said the health district is no longer helping with contact tracing and cases are increasing at such a rapid rate that it can’t do it either.

The district’s chief strategies officer Paul LaMarca says they’re looking to dismiss contact tracing and mentioned a notification system to tell parents about confirmed cases and then parents can decide if they should keep their child home.

Because of the timing of the board’s decision, the district will adhere to the following direction: If the student or staff member’s first day of exclusion was January 7 or earlier, they may return on January 12, if they have no symptoms.

If their first day was January 8 up to the 13th, they may return on the 18. Monday, January 17 is a holiday.

If an individual is unable or unwilling to wear a mask when around others after five days, they should quarantine for the full 10 days.

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