Paola USD 368

Paola USD 368 Central Services building

PAOLA – Paola USD 368 school board members have called a special board meeting to take place at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21, at the district’s central services building to discuss rising COVID-19 numbers.

The special meeting will occur a little over a week after Paola school board members decided during their Sept. 13 meeting to stay in Phase 1 of the district’s Safe Return to School Plan and keep masks optional.

At that time, there were 27 total active cases in the district (23 involving students and four involving staff members). That districtwide total jumped to 39 active cases (37 students and two staff members) during the most recent report updated Friday, Sept. 17.

The only items on the agenda for Tuesday’s special meeting are open forum, COVID discussion and phase determination.

Masks would only be required under Phase 3 of the plan. District officials previously have said a significant rise in cases could prompt the district to go into Phase 2, which would require students or staff members who are quarantined due to a close contact to both wear a mask and get a daily COVID-19 test if they want to return to school during their quarantine. Phase 1 allows for students and faculty members in quarantine to attend school if they are asymptomatic and agree to wear a disposable surgical mask.

Superintendent Matt Meek previously said evidence of COVID-19 transmission taking place within the school district could lead to Phase 3, which is a districtwide mask mandate similar to the previous school year.

School board member Randy Rausch was the only one who showed interest in considering Phase 3 and a mask mandate during the Sept. 13 school board meeting.

Meek said during the last board meeting that if the school board decides to move into Phase 2 and start requiring daily tests for all students in quarantine who want to return to school, he’s not sure he currently has the staff to be able to handle that workload.

Senior Managing Editor Brian McCauley can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or brian.mccauley@miconews.com.

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