Pierre School District Superintendent Kelly Glodt said there isn’t a set number or threshold for COVID-19 infections at which the district would institute new regulations, but reiterated that the district is watching the situation closely, especially given a recent spike in cases at Georgia Morse Middle School.
“We didn’t have any thresholds last year either,” Glodt told the Capital Journal. “There are districts that have different color codes or whatever... some last year used the community spread, some used percentages of how many students were positive at the time. So the ones that do have thresholds, you know, it might be 2 percent, might be 2.5 percent of the student body... our biggest hope is that we don’t get past that, obviously, and that kids are staying home when they’re sick and not coming to school and getting others sick.”
On Sept. 20, just three students and no staff districtwide had active COVID-19 cases. That number climbed to 11 students and one staff member the following week, and to 18 students and four staff the week of Oct. 4 — 11 of the students and three of the staff at GMMS alone.
The case numbers Glodt announced at Tuesday’s school board meeting indicated a slight decline — 14 students districtwide and one staff member at Buchanan Elementary had active COVID-19 cases. A districtwide total of 55 students and staff have recovered from COVID-19 since the school year began on Aug. 19.
The numbers at GMMS declined to seven students and no staff on Tuesday, though T.F. Riggs High School still had six students with active cases, the same number it saw the week of Oct. 4.
“We have to count on parents doing those things and keeping their kids home when they’re sick, testing their kids when they maybe feel they need to be tested,” Glodt said.
Glodt said the “only real change” the district has at its disposal is to require masks, which it would consider if case numbers got high enough.
Of the recent spike at GMMS, Glodt said the district monitored the school’s situation more closely than, for instance, Jefferson Elementary School, which had one student case and no staff cases on Oct. 4.
“We just make our buildings and grounds staff aware of the information, too,” District Manager Darla Mayer said. “I think there’s less concerns these days about surfaces and things like that, but we are bringing in fresh air to make sure that the air is getting exchanged, and they are just kind of touching bases on those things and making sure we’re doing everything we can environmentally to be as safe as possible.”
Glodt said what will help the district the most is parents being vigilant about keeping their children home during illness. He added that the district’s supply of COVID-19 tests is plentiful.
“At this point, anyway, any parent who has requested one, we’ve had plenty,” Glodt said.
Mayer said the district has given out about 730 tests so far.
“And quite a few of our positives were positive from our at-home test,” Glodt said. “So if our goal is to keep sick kids home, those tests are helping us do that.”
More than anything, Glodt said, the district is thankful to parents who are helping the district’s efforts by keeping their children home when necessary.
“We want to thank the parents and ask them to remain vigilant,” Glodt said.