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Students can choose to wear facemask to avoid quarantine

This was supposed to be the year students returned to in-person learning.

Unfortunately, the pandemic continues to disrupt school for a third straight year.

In a move to keep students in the classroom, the Warren County Board of Education voted Monday night to allow students in quarantine to return to school – provided they agree to wear a facemask.

As of Monday, there were 120 students in isolation, Director of School Grant Swallows announced at the School Board meeting. That means they have tested positive for COVID. Those students will still be required to stay home and cannot attend school.

There were an additional 895 students quarantined on Monday. These are students who have not tested positive for COVID. They were sent home because contact tracing determined they were in close contact with someone who had tested positive.

Under previous policy, students in quarantine could get a COVID test after Day 5 and, with a negative test, they could return to school after Day 7. The new policy adopted unanimously Monday night by the School Board allows students who would have been sent home in quarantine to remain in school if they wear a mask. 

Voting in favor of the policy change were School Board members Sue Anderson, James Bennett, Tanya Bess, Tommy Culwell, Helen Martin and Bill Zechman.

In voting for the facemask measure to allow quarantined students to stay at school, Culwell said he is personally opposed to facemasks, but he is not opposed to some give and take.

“If that helps us get through this quicker than so be it,” said Culwell, who conveyed a story about how his own son expressed a desire to wear a mask when he learned one of his teammates on the WCMS football team was quarantined.

Swallows suggested the facemask policy as a way to keep students who haven’t tested positive in the classroom.

“We have to work on what’s best for our kids and that’s to educate them,” said Swallows. “We still have to have school. We still have to have class.”

Bess said school officials are trying to do what’s best as they navigate this challenging situation.

“COVID is not going away and all it will take is one student fatality,” she said.

According to the school system policy released Tuesday night, students who were in quarantine can begin returning to class on Wednesday, Aug. 25, provided they show no COVID symptoms and provided they agree to wear a facemask until their quarantine period is over.