Rising Cases In Elementary Schools Spark Concern As Board of Education Holds Emergency Meeting
The board voted to install a new evolving mask policy that requires buildings that rise to or above a 2% positivity rate to mandate masks
September 10, 2021
Information published by the Wentzville School District regarding COVID-19 positivity standings in district schools bore some shocking news about a WSD elementary school.
Duello Elementary (shown in red on the table) is at a 5.32% positivity rate with seven COVID-19 tests still pending, a district high. Boone Trail Elementary and Crossroads Elementary are at 1.07% and 0.89% positivity rates respectively.
Duello’s positivity rate has increased every school day since Aug. 30, putting it deeper into the high-risk zones. Some parents in the district were outraged after seeing these statistics and feared for the health of their children. The rise in numbers as of recent days prompted the Board of Education to call an emergency board meeting for Thursday night. The spontaneous virtual meeting was called to order at 5 p.m. and was live streamed by the district. Only one item was on the agenda for open session: the situation at Duello and district elementary schools as a whole.
Superintendent Dr. Curtis Cain communicated that he received recommendation from the county health department to mandate masks at Duello Elementary at least in the short term. The board of directors reviewed the information that was recently released by district families and by the county health department as well as considering the county recommendation. The information and analysis by the board led to three major decisions being made.
One of the decisions made was to cultivate and strengthen the district’s partnership with the Saint Charles County Department of Public Health. The most emphasized portion of the relationship’s progress is how we as a district will contact trace. Dr. Cain and assistant superintendent Dr. Jeri Labrot both made it clear that the current protocols are not going to keep the district safe. The district will now more closely listen to the SCCDPH when making decisions on how we will contact trace positive cases in schools.
The board also elected to mandate masks for all students and staff at Duello Elementary School effective immediately. The mandate will last 30 days and further decisions will be made as new information and statistics are recorded. This is seen as the temporary solution to lower the positivity percentage.
A more sustainable and situational solution to rising numbers was the final decision made on behalf of the Wentzville School District. The board voted to install a new evolving mask policy that requires buildings that rise to or above a 2% positivity rate to mandate masks. Liberty currently has 12 positive cases and is at 0.80%. This policy is also effective immediately but ends on Sept. 17 and will be redressed at the regular board meeting scheduled for Sept. 16 for possible changes or a whole new system altogether.
These mask fail-safes are guaranteed to ruffle some feathers with the parents and students of the district who rejoiced at the mask optional policy that was approved by the Board of Education going into the beginning of the 2021-22 school year. Regardless of opinion, we can all agree that the happiness and safety of the people that learn and live in the Wentzville School District are of the utmost importance, in the minds of the district officials.