Lead-Deadwood schools give COVID-19 update

Lead-Deadwood School Nurse Laurie Rogers administers a COVID-19 state sentinel test to Middle School Counselor Sara DeBeaumont, given to asymptomatic staff members in the district who volunteered to be tested. Pioneer photo by Jaci Conrad Pearson

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LEAD — COVID continues to be part of the daily conversation in the Lead-Deadwood School District, as Tuesday school district officials talked numbers and a proposed state testing initiative.

“Right now, the positive cases in the district and the close contacts in the district are up and down,” Leikvold said. “Probably the same as everywhere. The good news is, so far, it hasn’t gone way up. Last week, we were at one active positive case and six close contacts. This week has been a little more active. We currently have four positive active cases and 10 close contacts.”

Leikvold said the totals since the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally have been 26 positives and 52 close contacts.

“I think that number’s going to continue to steadily go up,” Leikvold said. “We know that these children who are close contacts and positives are coming and going, so we need to continue our remote learning. We need to enhance that as best we can, because it’s probably not going to stop. We definitely need to serve them when they are gone for 14 days or whatever it takes.”

Leikvold added that most of the close contacts are from contacts at home.

“It’s not spreading so much here and I think other people are seeing that as well in other schools,” Leikvold said.

In other business, Leikvold said the district just sent out the latest bus sign-up, which, this time, will be effective for one month: Oct. 13-Nov. 13.

“Numbers are pretty much the same and masking is good,” Leikvold said. “We don’t really want to change that just yet. We’re going into flu season.”

Heads up on parent teacher conferences – they will be virtual.

Elementary School Principal Tim Kosters said a notice was sent to parents Thursday asking parents to sign up for conferences virtually, if at all possible.

“But if they have to come in and need a face to face conference, we will require masks from all visitors,” Kosters said.

In her update to the board, School Nurse Laurie Rogers said the Department of Health recently announced they would be sending rapid antigen COVID-19 tests to all the schools.

“They will be allocated to schools based on enrollment and basically one per student,” Leikvold said. “We’ll be getting 700.”

Rogers said there are a lot of details regarding the tests still to be worked out.

“They are supposed to be coming, at the latest, by the end of December,” she said. “I think it’s kind of similar to the sentinel testing that we’re already participating in.”

“Sentinel testing is for asymptomatic staff members,” Leikvold said. “The rapid testing is for symptomatic folks.”

“And I do two (tests) a week,” Rogers said.  

Leikvold said the conundrum is that in order to test symptomatic students, essentially children with symptoms will have to come to school – exactly what the school is trying to prevent.

“We don’t like that approach. We’ve got to figure out the details,” he said. “If we have those rapid tests, somebody at the school would need to administer them to sick children, and based on current workloads, it couldn’t be the school nurse alone and I’m not so sure we want non-health experts doing it.”

Concerns were raised about the “anyone can do it if they read the card” directions that accompany the tests.

Leikvold said there have been questions statewide about administration of the tests and whether or not hospitals or medical professionals administering them would be more appropriate.

Rogers added there isn’t really much guidance yet on what to do with a positive test and what the policy is.

“Other than you have to report the positive to the state,” she said.

Some school districts have indicated they will use the tests to gauge whether or not close contacts can come back.

School Board Member Amber Vogt said she struggles with the school district being a testing center.

“You can accept them. You can keep them. But I don’t think we should be administering them,” Vogt said. “I’m all right donating them to the clinic and having kids tested there.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” School Board Member Amber Diers added. “I think if someone is sick, we should send them home. They shouldn’t be in school in the first place if they’re sick. They should go to Monument Health and get tested. Not in school.”

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