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3,800 students quarantined

Published: Sep. 28, 2020 at 7:43 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - So far this school year, more than 3,800 students statewide have missed school due to quarantine, according to the Department or Public Instruction. And, as more school-aged kids catch the virus, schools are looking for ways to stay open.

Since the school year started, the number of school-aged COVID cases has risen from 283 to 675, and some groups are looking to expand policies to curb it.

“We’re looking for that flexibility to have that one more piece of arsenal in our back pocket, or if you’re wearing masks, you get to come to school, which is the best place for their overall well-being,” said Dr. Aimee Copas of the North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders.

Some schools don’t have mask mandates, while others have seen hybrid models and quarantine policies.

In Mandan, eight percent of their student body has experienced some form of quarantine; roughly half of them because of exposure at school.

Of that, the district has seen 33 positive cases.

“Even with the number of kids we are contact tracing and putting into quarantine, it’s a very small gain for the kids who actually become COVID positive versus the loss of instructional time and access to school,” Jeff Fastnacht, MPS assistant superintendent.

But smaller counties have different policies. While larger ones rely more on distance learning, schools districts like Kidder don’t have mask requirements.

“I just really think there needs to be a balance between the health and safety of our students, and the mental health and educational needs of our kiddos,” said Kidder Superintendent Rick Diegel.

Another toll on attendance: increased homeschooling. At the end of the last school year, roughly 3 percent of North Dakota students were home schooled, below the national average. But over the summer, the state jumped above it.

Over the past 10 years, the number of homeschooled students has doubled from 1.7 to 3.8%. But experts say the recent jump isn’t COVID. The preference is growing.

Copyright 2020 KFYR. All rights reserved.

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