TOPEKA (KSNT) – Seaman School District USD 345 is suspending contact tracing for students. The Board of Education voted to change the district rules during a special meeting Monday afternoon.
Superintendent Dr. Steve Noble told the board that the district is seeing around 100 positive cases each day. He said that the high number of contacts is making tracing impossible.
“We’ve held on as long as possible but at some point something had to give, and with the rapid spread of Omicron it’s like we are chasing our tails with contact tracing,” Noble told the BOE. “The best I can tell parents and staff is to assume that everyone has been exposed, either at home, in the community, or in school.”
The district is asking parents to follow Shawnee County Health Department guidelines. Click here to see read the change the BOE passed Monday.
Noble said the board intends to start contact-tracing again once cases slow down. He said they plan to revisit this issue at the next board meeting on Feb. 14.
Along with contact-tracing issues, the district is also suffering from a lack of supplies.
“Our testing kits are dwindling,” Noble said. “We think we may have enough testing kits to get through this week possibly, but without a resupply that also will stop because we just don’t have the kits.”
Another issue is staffing. Noble pointed to other districts, like Manhattan-Ogden Schools, that have taken days off due to staff shortages. He said this is a possibility for Seaman.
Remote learning is something the district used previously to control the spread of the virus, but that power is now limited. The Kansas Legislature passed a school finance bill last year that limited remote learning to 40 hours.
Other districts in Topeka are also feeling the burden of Omicron. Auburn-Washburn Director of Communications Martin Weishaar said the district is still doing tracing for positive cases but it has become “a bit overwhelming” for staff.
Shawnee Heights Communications and Marketing Director Tiffanie Kinsch said the district sent a message to families notifying them that as the Omicron variant spreads through our community, it is becoming hard to keep up with contact tracing.
Kinsch said the district is still contract tracing; however, their first priority is to identify positive cases and isolate those individuals. She said they then focus on contract tracing among indoor non-masked situations, such as lunchtimes.