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The Bear Lake County School Board held a special meeting on September 11 to discuss two items, the school district’s quarantine guidelines and COVID-19 guidelines.

Item C-1, Quarantine Guidelines, was discussed in great length. Before the meeting, when a student was found to be positive for COVID-19, they were sent home until they were symptom-free for three days, at which time they were allowed to return to school. This was deemed unfair, because those in close contact to them who were quarantined for 14 days because of exposure were home longer, in some cases, than the student who actually had the virus.

It was also mentioned that when we send our children to a public school, we have to know there is risk of them contracting illness. That is just something that goes along with them being in a public school.

Dr. Jacobsen was in the meeting and spoke about the fact that from a medical standpoint, the medical staff agree that if we are going to follow CDC guidelines, we should do it all the way around. From a healthcare standpoint, prevention is key by wearing masks. He said masks have been proven to prevent the amount of cases and then quarantining is no longer an issue because there would be none if masks are being worn. That is the medical staff’s opinion.

He said, “Kids are adaptable, but parents are not. You adapt when you wear the mask every day. Why aren’t we preventing? The most effective way is to keep school open and wear masks. It might not be the most popular thing, but sometimes those are the conditions you have to follow. Obedience to that action makes you free. We don’t give up certain freedoms on the road or we lose the freedom to drive. In the end you have more freedom when you obey the laws. The same would be said for the kids in school. My recommendation would be to follow the most stringent.”

He went on to say, “As far as quarantine would be to follow the healthcare professionals and to wear masks. If there is a positive case, we (as doctors and nurses) are going to work the next day and check everyone and we all wear masks. It affects our local families and our economy. If doesn’t only affect the kids, it’s affecting our staffing. We’re taking moms out of the work force to take care of the kids who are quarantined. Guidelines say quarantine for 14 days whether wearing a mask or not. If two kids wearing a mask sitting next to each other and one tests positive and it means keeping the schools open, it is a pretty big argument, but no one wants to talk about it. If we continue the way we are, how do we feel about staying open all year?”

Angie Grunig said, “I’d rather have the kids in school even if it means the kids having to wear a mask. This quarantine has been hard on the parent who self-reported because everyone has been so mean about it, and it’s hard on the kids who have been home.”

However, other board members did not want to do it yet. They were more inclined to maybe have them come back half way through the quarantine period wearing a mask rather than stay home for the entire quarantine period. They even agreed that the chance of the kids staying in school are better if they wear masks.

The board felt they have done their part to make the parents aware so they can make decisions for themselves as to how to live their lives. Rich Smart said he doesn’t see it as a dangerous thing for the children.

However, they know they are accountable and the schools will be shut down if there are too many cases of COVID-19, and it was asked, “If masks help to keep it open, why not follow the rules? We want to keep our schools open and it’s better if the schools are open and the kids are in school. However, we hate to see freedoms encroached on; that’s why we have been hesitant.”

All of this was about masks, really, which is technically about C-2; COVID-Guidelines, but they did finally come to a consensus about quarantining. The final decision about quarantining is as follows:

“Bear Lake School District Quarantine Guidelines: A student who tests positive will isolate at home for at least 10 days from symptom onset and at least 3 days have passed since symptoms have improved or your medical provider has determined a different illness than COVID-19 and cleared your child to return to school. For students who have been exposed to a positive case: student will be quarantined from school for 7 days, may have the option to return to school after original 7 days if symptom free and with wearing a mask for another 7 days. If they do not want to wear a mask, they will continue quarantine for another 7 days prior to returning to school.”

Item C-2, COVID-19 Guidelines, was then discussed a little further, and a motion was made to approve not requiring the students to wear masks in school. Annette will send out a survey to parents to see how they feel at this time about wearing masks.

Janet Lindsay, who was attending the meeting, asked to have the motions clarified. She then asked if there are multiple cases how they would police the wearing of masks for those who get to come back after seven days. She was told she is an administrator and it is her job to police them. If they don’t comply, she is to send them home. She then asked about them wearing the masks during sports practices and games during those seven days. The board decided they do not need to wear the masks during practices and games; just during school.

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