Seaman Board of Education suspends contact tracing, district could run out of COVID-19 tests by end of week

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TOPEKA (KSNT) – Seaman School District USD 345 suspends contact tracing for students. The school board voted to change the district rules at a special meeting Monday afternoon.

Superintendent Dr. Steve Noble told the council that the district is seeing about 100 positive cases each day. He said the high number of contacts made tracing impossible.

“We held on as long as possible, but at some point something had to give, and with Omicron spreading rapidly, it’s like we’re chasing our tails with contact tracing,” Noble told the BOE. “The best I can say to parents and staff is to assume that everyone has been exposed, whether at home, in the community or at school.”

The district is asking parents to follow guidelines from the Shawnee County Health Department. Click here to read the change the BOE adopted on Monday.

Noble said the council intends to start contact tracing again once cases slow down. He said they plan to come back to this issue at the next board meeting on February 14.

In addition to contact tracing issues, the district is also suffering from a lack of supplies.

“Our test kits are dwindling,” Noble said. “We think we may have enough test kits to get through this week, but without restocking it will also stop because we just don’t have the kits.”

Another problem is that of personnel. Noble pointed to other districts, like Manhattan-Ogden Schools, that took days off due to understaffing. He said that was a possibility for Seaman.

Remote learning is something the district previously used to control the spread of the virus, but that power is now limited. The Kansas Legislature passed a school finance bill last year that limited remote learning to 40 hours.

Other Topeka districts are also feeling Omicron’s burden. Auburn-Washburn communications director Martin Weishaar said the district was still tracking down positive cases, but it’s become “a bit overwhelming” for staff.

Shawnee Heights Director of Communications and Marketing Tiffanie Kinsch said the district sent a message to families advising them that as the Omicron variant spreads in our community, it becomes difficult to track contact tracing. .

Kinsch said the district is still looking for contracts; however, their first priority is to identify positive cases and isolate those individuals. She said they then focus on finding contracts in unmasked indoor situations, like lunch hours.

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