Emporia Public Schools Board of Education members received their first looks at the district’s new COVID-19 reporting dashboard during a brief meeting Wednesday evening at the Mary Herbert Education Center.

Located online at www.usd253.org/dashboard, the new website divides information into two sections: a traditional COVID-19 dashboard reporting generally-categorized case numbers — which is updated on a weekly basis — and a separate document titled “Individual and Building Positive Cases” which will serve to provide more detailed information on positive case incidents as they happen.

Moving forward, all reported COVID-19 incidents related to Emporia Public Schools will be posted to these pages, serving as official announcements from the district on each matter. USD 253 will not be broadly releasing the names of positive-testing staff members and/or students so as to adhere to HIPAA rules.

“We’re not going to send a mass email out to everyone in the school whenever there’s a positive case ...” said Assistant Superintendent Kelly Bolin on the matter of individual privacy. “We’re going to contact the people that need to know first. That’s going to be our priority.

“One of the things we’re also not going to do as a first step is immediately close down schools for one positive case. Might we have to at times? Absolutely. But, we’ll work with the Health Department and we’ll figure out the whens and the wheres … We know there will be positive cases and we’re prepared for that. Closing a school isn’t our first step in that pursuit.”

The district’s individual cases document was updated Tuesday to include positives for an EHS employee who had not attended school since Sept. 4 and an elementary student who tested positive for the virus over the holiday weekend after attending in-person classes last week. Currently, USD 253 is reporting five total positives among staff and one confirmed positive among students, with 10 staff members and six students currently quarantined.

“If someone, whether it’s a school nurse or human resources or a building administrator finds out that a student or staff member tested positive ...we’d begin to immediately do contact tracing,” Bolin said. “In the case of students being classified as close contacts, we will begin notifying parents as well. All of this happens quickly, within an hour.”

During the meeting, the Emporia Public Schools Board of Education also:

• Approved district participation in the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program at each elementary school for the 2020-21 academic year. The grant application was approved for all six schools providing reimbursement for fresh fruits and vegetables as follows: Logan Avenue — $17,290; Riverside — $28,210; Timmerman — $26,845; Village — $25,935; Walnut — $19,565; William Allen White — $16,120

• Renewed a partnership between Communities in Schools and Logan Ave/Walnut elementary schools for the continuation of services throughout the 2020-21 academic year.

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Simple. Clear. Easily understood. Thank you for this, 253. I appreciate your thoughtful efforts.

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