Parents given quarantine option in Jeff Davis

Published 10:29 am Friday, October 22, 2021

JENNINGS — The Jeff Davis Parish School Board voted 7-3 Thursday to give parents the choice on whether to quarantine their children if they are determined to have had direct contact with a student who tests positive for COVID-19.

As recommended by State Superintendent Cade Brumley, the new policy no longer calls for a mandatory quarantine of students defined as close contact at school. The current policy requires students to be sent home if they were exposed to COVID-19.

Board members in favor of giving parents the option were Greg Bordelon, Charles Bruchhaus, Malon Dobson, Davis Doise, Terry Leger, Denise Perry and Paul Trahan. Board members Phillip Arceneaux. Jason Bouley and Donald Dees voted against the measure. Board members David Capedville and Jimmy Segura were absent and Board President Jody Singletary did not vote.

“We are going to implement the new protocol immediately,” Superintendent Kirk Credeur said after the meeting. “Right now our (COVID-19) cases have dropped tremendously, so implementing the parent’s choice is going to be very, very easy for us.”

The district is averaging about one quarantine case per school with about 13-14 cases in the district, he said.

“And that number continually drops,” Credeur said. “It was at two per school, then 1-1/2 per school and right now it is one and dropping less than one for schools. Thank goodness we are not talking about a lot of students, but any student that can benefit from our educational structure is another student benefiting from our educational instruction and that is a good thing,”

Under the measure, parents will be notified of exposure and will be able to decide whether students considered in close contact with COVID-19 in a school setting should quarantine at home or stay in school.

The option can only be used in cases where students were a close contact to other students at school, not outside the school setting to include family members.

Parents would also be given the opportunity for a no-cost COVID screening for their child. Students testing positive or developing symptoms of the virus, would be isolated until they have recovered and are determined to no longer be infectious.

In addressing the board before the vote, concerned parent Mary Williamson said parents should choose what’s best for their children’s health and that children who are not sick should be in school learning.

“There are many consequences that come with quarantining children who don’t need to be quarantined,” Williamson “That’s a concern for me. It’s not just the consequence that happens with their education because they are out 7, 10, 14 days and they are at home expected to learn there when normally they are being taught at school.”

“We should have an option to let our children stay in school, if our children meet all the requirements health wise, temperature wise and they can still get a test done at no charge to them to allow them to be at school.” Wiliamson continued. “ If they are not sick they should be in school

Bordelon, who made the motion to accept Brumley’s recommendation, said several neighboring parishes have already adopted the new procedure.

“And I’ve talked to some principals in Texas and they never even had mask mandates and they feel like they have reached herd immunity in a lot of those communities,” he said. “The only trouble they are having now are in the bigger cities where they are bussing in these affected illegals into the big cities.”

The number of COVID-19 cases are drastically dropping in both Calcasieu and Jeff Davis parishes, he said..

During board discussion, Leger urged the board to look at ways of managing COVID-19 cases and potential student exposure to keep students in the classroom.

“It’s not the best situation, but it’s something we can manage,” Leger said. “We need to look at possibly giving a little bit here and figuring out a way we can manage it because ultimately we need our kids in school.”

In explaining his vote, Trahan said, “I think we are at that point where this is not the worst in the world. I do believe, personally, that the ones around a child that would be quarantined, I don’t see why we can’t do a two or three day temperature check or something of that nature to verify that things haven’t changed for them. Let’s face it, does COVID know if you are two feet apart, three feet apart, 15 minutes, 12 minutes, you can put up perimeters all day long, but at the end of the day I don’t think students should be forced to not be in school.”

Bouley, who questioned what Brumley based his decision on, urged the board to create a panel to work with the local medical community to see what the medical facts are or and make an informed decision about the new quarantine policy before implementing the change.