Rochester School District approves sending home rapid COVID tests

·3 min read
Paul Lynch will remain chair of the Rochester School Board this year.
Paul Lynch will remain chair of the Rochester School Board this year.

ROCHESTER — Nurses in city schools received approval Thursday to begin sending rapid COVID tests home with students or staff who show virus symptoms.

The request was made by Superintendent Kyle Repucci who said it came to him from the school nurses. The approval by the Rochester School Board was unanimous.

"School age children and staff who are symptomatic at school or work will be given a rapid test that they can take home, to be returned the next day," said Repucci. "There is a limit of one test per student or staff member per month. We have been assured by the state that we can get a monthly supply of tests moving forward."

Board member Karen Stokes asked if taking the test was mandatory, and what will happen if the student or staff member refuses.

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"Will they be allowed to return to school if they refuse," she asked.

Repucci said the person will not be allowed to return unless they take the test and it's negative, or until they are no longer symptomatic.

Bullying, 'para' pay, kindergarten

The board briefly discussed its policy on bullying, after Stokes said she is hearing from concerned parents, and they are expected to continue that discussion at their next meeting.

There was also a discussion of how to pay paraprofessionals if there is a remote day. Stokes said they are currently not paid and should be, or a way found to assure they can make up the money they lose when forced to be out of work for the day.

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"As a board, we need to do better by them," said board member Shane Downs. "I am getting constant phone calls from them and they feel like the doormat of our district."

Repucci said the same situation existed last year. He noted they are part of a union and their contract dictates how they are paid.

"No para lost money last year," he said. "No one lost their job There are ways around this."

Repucci said they can make it up, by working extra hours, or by using training time.

The paraprofessionals' contract is not up for negotiation this year. Repucci said contracts for teachers and food service will be negotiated this year.

In his report, Repucci said registration opens on Feb. 1 for incoming kindergarten students.

"I ask that parents register early," he said. "Rochester is a zoned school district so where you live determines where your child will go to school. Applications can be found at the central office and at each school."

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The exception is the Maple Street Magnet School. Enrollment there is chosen by lottery, with remaining parents placed on a wait list. Repucci said Dr. Erin Mahoney will host a virtual and in-person information night on Feb. 9, with applications due by March 11, and the lottery to take place on March 17.

The graduation date for Spaulding High School was announced and will be on Friday, June 10.

Also on Thursday, organizational items included the board election of Paul Lynch as chairman and Sarah Hamilton as vice chair. Both were uncontested in nominations by the board.

Rochester High School student senate representative Natalie Muelenbroek announced that the school's chapter of HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) will hold a blood drive on Feb 19, working with the American Red Cross to help meet its need for donations, details to be announced.

This article originally appeared on Fosters Daily Democrat: Rochester School District approves sending home rapid COVID tests

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