Watertown SD -- At a special meeting over the noon hour Friday at Garfield school the Watertown School board took action on several COVID-19 issues. Up first was an announcement by Watertown school Business Manager Heidi Clausen that the district has qualified for Federal approved free meals for students. She says the district qualified after the county reached 3.2 percent unemployment. Beginning October first all Watertown students K-12 enrolled will be eligible for the free meals until December 31st of 2020 or until Federal funding runs out. The board also considered and approved a COVID-19 Employee Leave Procedure. At the present time staff is allowed two weeks COVID-19 leave under Federal guidelines. Passage of the new measure will provide school employees with an additional two weeks leave. It will be funded with COVID-19 related funding. It was the last item on the agenda that generated the most discussion. That item was consideration of a COVID-19 close contact student procedure. Superintendent Dr. Jeff Danielsen says what they were bringing with the new procedure is essentially the same as what staff are following as essential employees in the district right now. He says that, in the instance of a confirmed positive COVID case, if you were deemed a close contact in the school and you were without a mask that student would then have to follow the fourteen day quarantine period as recommended by the Department of Health and CDC.
Board member Scott Hardie attempted to amend the motion on condition all students in the high school wear masks. He said it didn’t make sense to him to have one-hundred close contact kids wearing masks while the other 1,000 students aren’t wearing, and still expect those kids with masks to leave them on when there isn't a consistent mask policy throughout the building.
The amendment failed leaving the original item back on the table. Superintendent Danielsen explained what they hope the new procedure will accomplish.
The new procedure was approved on a 3-1 vote with Hardie opposed, Moulton absent, Stein, Rieber, and Lenards in favor. The new policy becomes effective October 5th