As in other districts in Minnesota, the Royalton School District continues to closely monitor the COVID case rate numbers in the county. Staff, students and others are also taking precautionary steps to keep everyone safe, such as social distancing, wearing facial coverings, sending students home who show symptoms, have tested positive or are affected by contact tracing.
“At this time, we have one staff member out because of COVID related reasons and we have 27 students out,” said Supt. John Phelps.
At Monday’s meeting, Phelps informed the Board that the state of Minnesota has offered the Royalton School District the option of offering secondary students, who want to get tested for COVID bi-weekly, the opportunity to be tested right at school. Another option for students is to bring the test with them from school and test at home.
Phelps said the test is based on saliva and would only require the student to spit in the test tube. Taking the test is completely voluntary and results are usually received within 24 to 36 hours.
While Phelps likes the idea of having COVID-19 testing available at the school, the reality is that it isn’t quite feasible at this time. For starters, he said, the district doesn’t have enough staff to make it possible. Secondly, it is already so late in the school year that it doesn’t quite make sense to get it up and going only for two test times (bi-weekly).
Lastly, Phelps said, while the test can be taken at home, an internet connection is required — something not all households have. In addition, some parents simply don’t want their children to get tested for a variety of reasons.
With the in-school COVID testing offer, the state also recommends that students in athletics be tested weekly.
“It’s to prevent having the whole team going out if it is discovered early,” Phelps said.
However, even if that was offered, Phelps doesn’t believe the district would see a lot of students in athletics testing. Given what has happened in different sports when one or more students have tested positive and how it has affected other students’ ability to play, many are likely detered from being tested.
“I think they are afraid that if they find out that somebody has it, they are afraid that it will shut down the sport for weeks and it could totally ruin a season,” he said.
The Board made no decision in regard to the state’s offer.