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Legal counsel, state health official responds to RPSB suggested COVID quarantine protocol

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 5:13 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2021 at 7:58 PM CDT
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RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB) - At the September Rapides Parish School Board meeting, a motion was made to direct the superintendent to develop a policy of only sending the students home that present the symptoms of COVID and to allow the other students that were wearing masks to remain in the classroom.

The other part of that motion states that a letter will be sent home to the parents informing them of their child’s exposure and they will be monitored by the school health clinic thereafter.

Superintendent Jeff Powell’s suggested quarantine protocol presents changes to how asymptomatic students are quarantined.

Suggested RPSB COVID Quarantine Protocol:

When a person has been identified as a close contact of a confirmed positive:

  • Parents are notified and given the options: Quarantine per CDC/LDH guidelines, OR if the student is asymptomatic:
    • Students will be administered a COVID test by a medical professional:
      • If the test is negative and the student remains asymptomatic, the student remains at school.
      • Test again on day five. If negative and the student is asymptomatic, the student can remain at school.

The board received legal counsel on the suggestion. In part, the response from legal counsel states:

“Major revisions in the quarantine procedures might very well abolish the board’s immunity from liability, especially where it can be shown that the changes are likely to result in a substantial increase in the transmission of the virus.”

“In short, the board must decide in making any substantial modifications to the existing protocols whether the gain in convenience and the lessening of complaints outweighs the risk that board-based modifications will waive the district’s immunity from liability with the result that hundreds of thousands of dollars of badly needed tax funds will be diverted to pay civil judgments in COVID liability lawsuits.”

Below, you can find a response to the board’s suggestion from the Louisiana State Epidemiologist:

(KALB)

Also at the September board meeting, a motion was made to direct the superintendent to develop a policy of consistency across the parish in relation to COVID protocol. That was presented at the September committee meeting with the superintendent sharing some changes in wording to the “Extenuating Circumstances” sub-section in the board’s “Student Absences and Excuses” section of the policy manual. These wording changes can be found highlighted on the second page by clicking here.

The suggested COVID quarantine protocol was sent to the consent agenda. No further action has been taken at this time.

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