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Maize schools to no longer offer COVID-19 testing for their test-to-learn students

Coronavirus in Kansas

School classroom with blackboard (KSN File Photo)

MAIZE, Kan. (KSNW) – Maize school district will no longer offer at-school COVID-19 testing for their test-to-learn option for students as of Monday, August 23.

That means that USD 266 will no longer provide daily COVID-19 tests for individuals who have experienced a new high-risk close contact starting Monday, and will continue until the number of cases and close contacts is reduced.

According to the district, they will continue to provide daily COVID-19 tests for those who experienced the scenario during the first week of school and opted to stay in school, pending a daily COVID-19 test for the period necessary.

The school district reminds parents, students and staff that a high-risk contact is one in which an unmasked individual has contact less than a 6-foot distance from someone who has tested positive for COVID.

Maize families may continue to utilize the option, but the testing will have to be conducted at a third-party clinic.

Those in the Maize school district who choose to seek a COVID test from an outside source, such as a private clinic, may do so and provide daily proof of a negative test to come back to school for the seven days following the contact. 

You can find information about COVID-19 testing from the Sedgwick County Health Department here.

The Maize school district notes that anyone following a test-to-learn option must wear a face mask daily at school during the seven-day period following the high-risk contact.

Maize also notes that they do not want to eliminate their daily COVID-19 testing, but that it “must happen” and is the “responsible and necessary next step” in their Together Again plan.

Due to the low percentage of students wearing face masks in the Maize district, each positive case identified resulted in a large number of high-risk close contacts. 

School nurses and administrators spend at least half of a school day contact tracing and facilitating COVID-19 tests for those who were participating in the internal test-to-learn option. The district states that at that rate the continuation of daily COVID-19 testing is “not sustainable” and would result in hundreds of daily tests.

According to the Maize USD 266 COVID Case Protocol for 2021-22 School Year, those who are masked, vaccinated, and/or have proof of a positive COVID-19 test in the past six months may remain in school and monitor symptoms following contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID. 

The Maize school district states that for each student, the best opportunity to stay in school is to wear a face mask daily and/or, for those ages 12 and older, to get their COVID-19 vaccination. 

Maize asks that you please help them keep as many students in school as possible for the sake of their education.

The wearing of face masks continues to remain voluntary and optional at Maize schools, and the Superintendent of Schools in Maize, Dr. Chad Higgins hopes to keep it that way unless Maize has to reverse course due to the number of absences. 

The district will be sharing its first 2021-22 COVID-19 dashboard Monday at www.usd266.com/TogetherAgain.

Maize has collected data from the first four days of school. The district asks that you keep in mind that in addition to the first week of school being a short week, the district only had all students in attendance district-wide on Thursday and Friday based on their staggered back-to-school schedule.

  • There were 15 postive student cases and three positive staff cases dring the first week of school.
  • There were 219 student high-risk contacts during the first week of school.
  • In one instance, a positive case affected an entire classroom of students, causing at least 27 students to be high-risk contacts.
  • Without face masks, each positive COVID case resulted in 18 to 33 high-risk contact cases.

Maize asks that students and staff continue to practice proper hand-washing and stay at home if you have symptoms and/or are awaiting COVID test results.

The district has updated and posted revised USD 266 COVID Mitigation Guidelines 2021-2022 here.

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