• Last modified 1013 days ago (Oct. 14, 2021)


Schools tighten rules as COVID rises

Staff writer

Marion County schools, having gotten new guidance from the county health department, are looking again at COVID-19 policies.

Between Sept. 23 and Oct. 6, 21 COVID cases were diagnosed in Hillsboro schools, five in Goessel schools, four in Marion schools, two in Peabody-Burns, and one in Centre.

Hillsboro schools set guidelines Monday for what actions the schools will take when the numbers of active cases reach certain levels.

“We didn’t have a plan for gating at that point,” superintendent Max Heinrichs said.

When less than 6% of students and staff at either school building have active cases of COVID, masks will be optional and social distancing of three or more feet will be required.

If 6 to 10% of a building’s population has active cases of COVID, the school board will have a special meeting to decide what to do next.

If 10% or more of the population has COVID, masks will be required until eight days after the 10% level was hit.

“We’re taking care of the issues as they come up to us,” Heinrichs said. “We want our people in school, we want our people learning, and we want our people safe.”

Hillsboro tested 31 students, staff members, and parents who requested it Monday. Of them, one parent, one staff member, and three students got positive results. Heinrichs said two of the three students had not been in school since being exposed.

Hillsboro has 374 students and staff at the elementary school and 372 at the middle and high school.

Marion school district changed policies for people who have been exposed to COVID.

A vaccinated student with a family member who has COVID may continue to come to school as long as they wear a mask and are tested daily by a school nurse. The student is not allowed to ride a school bus.

An unvaccinated student with a family member who has COVID must stay home as long as their family member is in isolation. When the isolation is over, the student may return to school with a negative test before they return, and on days three, five, and seven. They are required to wear masks seven days after the isolation is over. The student is not allowed to ride a school bus.

Masks will not be required when a student is participating in athletics or physical education.

Centre superintendent Larry Geist told school board members there was an uptick in testing Monday, with 39 tests administered and six positive results, which included one faculty member.

State school district data show that between Sept. 23 and Oct. 6, 21 positive cases were diagnosed in Hillsboro schools, five in Goessel, four in Marion, one in Centre, and two at Peabody-Burns.

Marion County had 38 new COVID cases in this past week, bringing the total number of cases to 1,516.

Tabor College and Hillsboro elementary school remain on the state’s cluster list, with 11 diagnoses at Tabor and 16 at Hillsboro Elementary in the last 14 days.

The health department on Tuesday reported the county has 49 people sick with COVID and four in the hospital.

A family hospitalized with COVID that the community has prayed for over several days has one doing better. The other two still are struggling.

A Caring Bridge page for Jeff and Dawn Lee and their daughter, Jenny Craft, said Dawn was expected to be released from Newton Medical Center Tuesday.

Her husband Jeff was put on a ventilator Thursday and had an irregular heartbeat Monday. Physicians were able to stabilize him.

Craft took a downturn Tuesday. She has pneumonia and her lungs were filled with fluid and her oxygen levels dipped. Her gallbladder was inflamed and physicians had to drain fluid from it.

Last modified Oct. 14, 2021