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MCCSC makes it easier to return to school after positive COVID test or close contact

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(Jeanie Lindsay/IPB News)

The MCCSC Board of Trustees updated the district's COVID-19 policies Tuesday evening.

The changes make it easier to return to school for those who test positive for COVID or are close contacts of someone who has. The previous guidelines led to extended absences for some students and staff members.

“Due to the number of cases and staffing limits, maintaining our current procedures has become impossible,” Superintendent Jeff Hauswald said.

In accordance with CDC guidelines, individuals now only have to isolate for five days after a positive COVID result. They can return to school on the sixth day with a negative test result.

Schools will also begin to accept negative antigen tests. In cases where an unvaccinated person is identified as a close contact and is asymptomatic, at-home antigen tests will be accepted.

MCCSC previously only allowed a negative PCR test to return. Board member Elizabeth Ruh said finding a PCR test quickly became difficult for many families. Antigen tests aren’t quite as accurate but are easier to come by.

“It's an equity issue,” Ruh said. “The advisory committee is doing the best they can to balance what is accessible locally without having to go to other counties, to keep our kids in school.”

COVID DATA REPORTING

As part of the changes, MCCSC will stop sharing district data on COVID-19 cases in schools directly to parents and on its website. 

A release from MCCSC to parents said the decision was because the district is unable to accurately report the data at this point. MCCSC reported 157 COVID cases from Jan. 16 to 25.

April Hennessey was the only board member to vote against the changes. She said she was concerned about making it easier to return to school while making it harder for parents to know how much COVID is spreading.

“If we are going to lessen the requirements of the kinds of tests we accept, then I absolutely think that we should then at least be giving them school or district data in order for them to make informed decisions,” she said.

The board also clarified the district’s contact tracing procedures – “general notifications” will no longer be sent. Contact tracers will identify positive cases, followed by household close contacts. They’ll then move to school close contacts where masks weren’t required and school contacts who were masked.

AFSCME CONTRACT APPROVED

The board of trustees approved a new contract with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) for 2022-2023. The union represents MCCSC’s custodians, food service workers and bus drivers.

The agreement bumps the minimum hourly wage to $13.75, up from about $11 an hour.

DISTRICT 6 BOARD SEAT

The school board unanimously approved Ross Grimes to fill the District 6 seat previously held by Jacinda Townsend Gides. Townsend Gides resigned from the board earlier this month to take a job at the University of Michigan.

Grimes has lived in Bloomington since 1985 and is an account executive at EarthCam, a webcam and live video network. Three of his children have graduated from MCCSC, with another three currently in the system.

VACCINE CLINIC

There will be a COVID-19 vaccination clinic Saturday at the Bloomington High School South cafeteria.

Individuals 12 and older can receive the Pfizer shot from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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