By Dan Spalding
WARSAW – So what happens when Johnny the third-grader suddenly has a fever while at school this fall?
It probably won’t entail simply going to the nurse’s office and waiting for a ride home.
As Warsaw Community Schools prepare to reopen classrooms on Aug. 18 in the middle of a pandemic, officials have developed protocols for what happens when students fall ill.
Many of those details were discussed by Warsaw Schools Superintendent Dr. David Hoffert Wednesday morning at the coronavirus media briefing at Warsaw City Hall.
Once a school official learns a student is feeling sick, that student will be sent to the nurse’s office and then to an isolated room and asked to wear a mask. Parents would be asked to pick up the sick child and urged to get tested for COVID-19.
Officials would then try to determine which students had close contact with the sick student and those who did would be sent home and asked to monitor their health.
As an example, If the ill student sat in a pod with three others for a prolonged period, those three would be sent home.
“There will be times when we pull kids out of classrooms,” said Teresa Reed, the communicable disease nurse for Kosciusko County Health Department who spoke at the media briefing.
Officials admit a lot of children could end up being sent home for extended periods under those types of protocols.
“Those impacts are going to be a big deal,” Reed said.
(Below are two charts outlining possible quarantine procedures)
Hoffert said they’re working to minimize those situations with a long list of changes in policy this fall and hope to avoid having to close entire classrooms or school buildings.
Since it’s not feasible for the school district to take the temperatures of all students as they arrive each morning, educators say they are relying heavily on parents to monitor the health of their children.
The arrival of the flu season will complicate the situation.
“Based on our current guidance, it does indicate there could be times when there could be a lot of people out of school, especially if we have a significant flu season in combination with COVID,” Reed said.
Officials are hoping to have access to rapid testing and quick test results.
School officials say students who don’t feel well should not come to school.
In fact, the school is temporarily doing away with incentives for perfect attendance – including the annual car giveaway.
“Those are not things we want to encourage because we don’t want somebody coming to school sick and trying to get a certificate or win a car. That is not worth the health and wellbeing of our schools and our community,” Hoffert said.