Reynolds lays out Tomahawk’s COVID-19 procedures as start of school year approaches
Masks required on buses, recommended in building; no vaccination mandate for students, staff
By Jalen Maki
Tomahawk Leader Editor
TOMAHAWK – School District of Tomahawk Administrator Terry Reynolds on Tuesday, July 27 sent a letter to students, families and staff laying out the COVID-19 procedures and mitigation strategies that will be in place at the start of the 2021-2022 school year.
The first day of school is Wednesday, Sept. 1.
Reynolds explained that data from the Lincoln County Health Department (LCHD) says local COVID-19 transmission is “low,” and the district followed that data as it crafted its back-to-school plan.
According to the letter, the school building and grounds will remain open to all students, staff and visitors, as they have since June 7.
Masks will not be required in the school building, but will be recommended for those who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19. However, in accordance with federal mandates, face coverings will be required on school buses.
Students and staff will not be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend school and work on campus.
“The district will continue building level mitigation strategies at school, such as social distancing as much as possible, hand sanitizing practices, cohort grouping in the elementary for various grade levels, etc.,” Reynolds stated.
The district will have the opportunity to provide free COVID-19 testing for students and staff who are symptomatic, Reynolds said, adding that no student will be required to be tested, and parents will need to consent to participate in the school testing program.
“At this time, all the procedures for testing have not been determined,” Reynolds stated. “However, we are anticipating to use the Antigen Quick test, which takes about 15 minutes to determine positive or negative results. More information and consent forms will be provided to parents in the coming weeks.”
CDC contract tracing and quarantine guidelines will be followed in the event a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19. As part of the guidelines, fully vaccinated individuals will not be quarantined, Reynolds said.
All fall events will be open to the public, with the guidelines above in place.
Reynolds said the highly-contagious Delta variant “may become an issue in the coming weeks/months in Wisconsin,” adding that, according to LCHD, “98% of newly-diagnosed COVID cases are impacting those who are not fully vaccinated, and 50% of the newly diagnosed cases do include the Delta variant.”
“The information we are receiving from the public health officials/experts is the more individuals who receive the COVID-19 vaccination, the less likely additional restrictions, such as requiring face coverings, and limiting attendance to activities will need to be implemented here at school,” Reynolds stated. “I encourage everyone that is 12 years or older to consider getting vaccinated if you have not done so already, so we can avoid any additional restrictions/quarantines at school. Help us help you! It really does come down to our community deciding by their actions/decisions if we are able to come back and continue the school year in as normal conditions as possible.”
Reynolds said the district will continue to work closely with LCHD, and will modify its current plans and implement “further restrictions” if COVID-19 infection rates increase to medium or high levels.
“Let’s work together in the coming weeks to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff are possible with the least amount of restrictions,” Reynolds said in concluding his letter.