Wichita Public Schools change COVID protocols, considering temporary closures

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Wichita Public Schools (WPS) are changing its COVID-19 positive case isolation protocols to align with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines as they face a staffing shortage.

WPS is facing a staffing shortage due to the community spread of COVID-19 following the holidays. As a result, officials are closely monitoring school data to determine whether staffing challenges due to COVID-19 warrant consideration of temporary school closure.

The following protocols will become effective Wednesday, Jan. 12:

  • If the positive individual is fever free for 24 hours without medication, and if the positive individual has resolving symptoms (meaning, symptoms are improving), then the individual can return to work/school as early as day 6 (day 0 is first day of symptoms).
  • If the student/staff member is not fever free for 24 hours without medication and feeling better by day 5, then the individual must continue to remain at home until they have met the 24 hours of being fever free with resolving symptoms.
  • Additional details are available on the revised COVID protocol document attached to this email. 

WPS asks that you be prepared for the following:

Have a child care plan. Please know that temporary school closure is a possibility due to the impact of COVID on school staffing. Before we would make such a decision, we are employing many other measures to provide a safe learning environment for students. We know that a transition like this may have a negative impact on our families. However, it is vitally important that you have a plan in place now in the event that data indicators at your school cause us to send all students home for several days. It is our hope that we will be able to give you 2-3 days’ notice before we have to make such a transition, but the reality is that based on what we see happening in our district and our community, that notification could be provided one day to take effect the following day.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), which provides funding for WPS COVID-19 test kits, has asked WPS to temporarily suspend its “test to stay” protocol in schools. The “test to stay” protocol calls for daily testing of unvaccinated high-risk close contacts. The KDHE made the request due to concerns about having an adequate supply of test kits. The KDHE suggests that “test to stay” students and staff members remain in school, masks required, and test if any indication of symptoms.

If you or your student need a COVID-19 vaccination, you can check with the Wichita Public Schools website for information on upcoming WPS vaccination clinics.

If you or your student needs a COVID-19 test, call 316-973-4790. Your test must be scheduled in advance. Learn more online.

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