BCS continues to see increasing COVID-19 cases

Superintendent strongly encourages mask usage

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Blair Community Schools Supt. Randy Gilson is strongly encouraging students and staff to wear masks as the district continues to see an increase in COVID-19 cases.

As of Tuesday, the district had 15 total cases — 14 students and one staff member — this week. It was the fifth highest total in the last two years, following last week, which was the sixth highest total.

The district has had a total of 23 cases in the first three weeks of school. That's 14% of its entire total from the 2020-21 school year. The district, which didn't see this many cases until Week 10 last year, was on pace to double last year's total cases.

“As we look at the numbers, if we want to curb the increase, I think wearing a mask is the best mediation at school for any student who is not vaccinated,” Gilson said. “If a student has received a vaccine, then I think they have a high probability of protection.”

Masks remain optional. Through the first seven days of school, Gilson estimated about 5 to 7% of students and staff were wearing masks.

“We've seen an increase in students and staff wearing masks,” he said.

On Wednesday, Gilson said about 50% of students and staff were wearing masks at South Primary School, while 17% were wearing masks throughout the district. About 15% of BCS staff were wearing masks.

Gilson shared his concerns and the case numbers with six of the district's nine school board members during committee meetings this week. Regionally, COVID cases have increased in Cass, Sarpy and Douglas counties. The Three Rivers Public Health Department has also seen an increase in cases. The average daily case rate per 100,000 population is 29.34.

In Washington County, there have been 79 cases in the last two weeks.

“The regional level of threat has risen around us,” Gilson said. “Most concerning to me is the number of COVID cases in the school.”

So what's the threshold for the district to consider another mask mandate?

“I think we look at the regional COVID totals and we've been looking at that per 100,000 so that we can compare,” he said. “I think even more important than that is how COVID cases are affecting our own student body.”

Without a state directed health measure, Gilson said the decision would have to be made together by the BCS Board of Education and the administration.

In the meantime, he asks that students wear masks.

“I can't emphasize enough,” Gilson said. “The numbers speak for themselves.”

COVID-19 cases

Washington County

Past 7 days: 45

Past 14 days: 79

Three Rivers Public Health District

Past 7 days: 162

Past 14 days: 288

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