IHS cases near mask trigger

Positive COVID-19 cases at Iola High School hit 14 this week, just one away from triggering an automatic two-week, building-wide mask mandate. Superintendent Stacey Fager said he expects cases to go down next week though.



October 22, 2021 - 4:13 PM

Photo by Celia Llopis Jepsen / Kansas News Service / kcur.org

A high number of COVID-19 cases at Iola High School this week nearly triggered an automatic mask mandate for the building.

IHS reported 14 students and staff tested positive for COVID-19 as of Tuesday.

Under a policy approved earlier this year by the school board, a mask mandate will go into effect when a building reaches 4% of positive cases.

At IHS, that number is 15.

“It’s close, but we haven’t exceeded that. We’re evaluating as we go, and we expect a lot of those cases will drop off next week,” Superintendent Stacey Fager said. 

“This is the first time any building has approached that threshold.”

The positive cases do not appear to be connected, Fager said. Most seem to have been infected outside the school and not an outbreak within the building. 

If triggered, the mask mandate will remain in place for two weeks; at that time, the mandate will expire only if the number of positive cases is 2% or lower. It will remain in place for two-week intervals until cases decline to that benchmark.

Schools continue to take other precautions, such as increased cleaning and sanitation practices. 

The district offers a “Test to Stay and Learn” protocol, which allows students to remain in school as long as they test negative each morning.

IN ALL, 16 students and staff members were listed as positive for COVID-19 this week. The district also had 32 students in quarantine, and 23 under the “Test to Stay and Learn” protocol. Again, most of those were at the high school, with 23 in quarantine and 20 being tested.