MHS volleyball girls under 14-day quarantine

Board of Supervisors
By: 
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     During the Aug. 25 Jones County Board of Supervisor meeting, Public Health Coordinator Jenna Lovaas reported that freshmen and sophomore members of the Monticello girls volleyball team were under quarantine through Sept. 5.

     Lovaas said this was due to exposure “to a probable COVID-19 case” and “per the guidance” JCPH provided to the Monticello Community School District.

     Superintendent Brian Jaeger, in a separate conversation, confirmed that the volleyball girls were asked to quarantine for 14 days, and were all participating in online learning until they returned to school.

     The precaution was necessary after a player’s parent tested positive, and the student showed symptoms after the players all practiced together.

     They will physically return to the high school after Labor Day.

     As of Aug. 28, after just the first week of school, Jaeger reported 37 students in PreK-12 grade home under quarantine.

     “That’s 4 percent of our student body,” he said. “Most have had direct exposure to someone with COVID symptoms. Others are at home with multiple symptoms and no direct exposure to someone with COVID.

     “This is only the beginning, unfortunately,” continued Jaeger. “We anticipate that this semester will be full of symptoms, exposures, and quarantines.”

     The school is working under the advisement of JCPH.

     Lovaas shared information regarding “exclusion guidance for individuals with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 in school settings.” Students and school staff with have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 will be sent home or not allowed to take part in in-person learning.

     In both confirmed and probable COVID cases, individuals are considered recovered when at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared, fever-free for 24 hours, and other symptoms have improved. Those having close contact must quarantine for 14 days.

     For confirmed and/or probable cases, at the elementary level, JCPH recommends self-quarantine for all staff and students in a self-contained classroom. At the middle and high school level, JCPH recommends self-quarantine on a case-by-case basis.

     When Lovaas reported her update to the board of supervisors, there were 23 open COVID cases in Jones County.

     “We’re climbing again,” she said. “I think our numbers were already starting to rise before back-to-school activities started. We may begin to see the fallout from that in the next couple of weeks.”

     Lovaas shared that the most recent cases stemmed from gatherings such as weddings, funerals, and general friends, as well as work exposures.

     Emergency Management Coordinator Brenda Leonard noted that PPE for Jones County schools arrived on the 20th. Of the items that came in, schools are still in need of gloves and isolation gowns.

     “They’re extremely hard to come by,” reported Leonard. “Either we can’t get them or they’re outrageously priced.”

     A second contact tracer has also started working with JCPH, someone with a background in education. Lovaas said this would help when talking to parents about why their students need to be under quarantine.

     With only a week under their belt since school started, a total of 127 students in PreK-12 within the MCSD are participating in online-only learning, as reported by Jaeger. This amounts to 13 percent of the student body.

     “We have tried to be flexible with all families taking online classes, and we will continue to work with families if they want to switch to online or in-person learning,” offered Jaeger. A change in education style does require principal approval.

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