Board approves revised school calendar

SPEARFISH — Spearfish’s school board approved its revised schedule for the 2020-21 school calendar at Tuesday’s special meeting.

This schedule allows for one fewer student contact day, limiting the length to 172 days. The school year would begin on Sept. 8, 2020 and end on June 4, 2021.

Members also participated in a 70-minute Webex seminar that Monument Health sponsored. Monument personnel presented statistics and answered questions.

Two tests for the COVID-19 virus exist: a throat swab, and an antibody test. The positive rate for the throat swab is around 4 percent, with the antibody test at 1.3 percent.

Underlying conditions placing individuals at greatest risk for COVID include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.

If a patient with underlying conditions is younger than 10, 5 percent are admitted to the ICU. The national rate for patients aged 10 to 19 is at 3.5 percent. That rate goes to 3.4 percent when reaching age 20-29.

What about reported deaths by age group, among those with underlying conditions? That rate for 0-9 is 0.6 percent compared to 0.8 percent for 10-19.

No one in South Dakota aged 0-19 has lost their life because of COVID. Only one person aged 20-29 has done so.

Monument Health offers diagnostic and antibody testing. It follows CDC and South Dakota Department of Health testing guidelines.

Diagnostic testing has revealed a positivity rate of 3.8 percent over the seven-day period ending Tuesday. More than 1,200 tests were conducted during that week.

The government directs where manufacturers are sending tests based on hot spots and population.

People should wait 14 days after exposure for testing. It takes a person’s body that long to produce the antibody.

Decisions on reopening schools should be based on how widespread the community transmission is.

Transmission rates for children under age 10 are lower. Eighty percent of the COVID cases in this country affect people aged 65 and over.

A question was raised about playground equipment. Being outdoors is preferable to indoors as long as the students wash their hands and do not touch their faces.

What if a student or teacher tests positive?

The best response is a 14-day quarantine or isolation, as per the Department of Health. Those people are also monitored.

Current CDC recommendations involve testing any symptomatic individuals. Asymptomatic people are not tested regularly.

A person may test positive three to 14 days after being exposed.

Studies in Denmark and France indicate that children, especially those under age 10, do not transmit or acquire COVID at the same rate as adults. From ages 10-20, those rates are similar.

One of the given reasons is that children’s activity is not what it is for adults. However, the virus may be transmitted at any age.

Masking and distancing were not originally done in Denmark, but hand washing had to be done every two hours.

Israel declared a public health emergency on March 17 and closed all schools. They reopened once people felt better, in May.

Teachers received surveillance testing, with schoolchildren exempted from masks during that three-day period (May 19-21). Rates were 13 percent among students and 16 percent among staff members.

The countries doing well against COVID  — including Denmark and Finland — have the students wear masks if they are 10 and older.

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