Kids in North Dakota’s largest school district are back in class. But with the rise in COVID cases throughout the community, what are officials doing to ensure everyone is safe?
Some parents like Karen Dunlap have concerns that Bismarck Public School just isn’t doing enough when it comes to a COVID mitigation plan — especially with the Delta variant being the main strain now.
“Oh, we’re going to need to do some things this fall when we go back to school. We’re going to have to still wear masks, we’re going to have to be careful about those kinds of things. About a month before school started realized Bismarck Public School was not intending to make any changes to their reentry plan,” explained Dunlap.
Dunlap says besides the lack of preventive measures, she says the plan of not doing extensive contact tracing is upsetting.
“If our kids end up being in a classroom with a child that does have COVID, we want to know about it so we could keep an eye on things. Are they not eating right? Or do they have some ache or pain that might be an early symptom?” said Dunlap.
The superintendent of Bismarck Public Schools, Dr. Jason Hornbacher, says there is a plan in place and the district is closely monitoring cases throughout the area. He says they have made changes and upgrades throughout schools.
“I think a big one on people’s minds is air filtration systems that we’ve had upgrades to, which I think means a lot to our staff, our students and their parents. In addition to that, we have some social distancing maximizing spaces, recommending mask use, hygiene practices, sanitation practices,” explained Hornbacher.
Hornbacher says if someone tests positive, may it be a student, teacher or staff, they need to follow the guidance given to them by the state. So if someone is sick they should stay home, automatically.
“All staff are granted leave according to our leave practice at the beginning of the year in a handbook. So all staff have some leave that they can access for this. So no one is coming into this school year, even if it’s a new staff of having… I don’t have any leave. You know I have no leave,” said Hornbacher.
BPS is continuing with the plan they left off on last school year, which was put into place May 4.
We also reached out to Mandan Public Schools who said in a statement:
“We are continuing to offer the Mandan Virtual Academy for those students in K-8 who have chosen to learn virtually. At this time, the District will not be contact tracing ourselves. Instead, we will follow quarantine orders for positive and close contacts ordered by the ND Department of Health.”