The West Fargo Public School District is currently operating with masks only being highly recommended and the school board approved a reactionary metric guideline to follow. I have many data points and articles to show that our guidelines are not working, and the district should do more to help our community with the COVID pandemic.
- Currently, masks are only highly recommended, yet district administration can’t even follow their highly recommended status when they are in the schools. Why do you expect teachers or students to follow the recommendation when administration doesn’t?
- Teachers are burnt out. We are being asked to sub every day in our schools. So far this year 74 staff have gotten COVID. Some of these cases have been from transmission of COVID at school. ND Workforces Safety and Insurance recommends employers to follow OSHA guidance to help mitigate COVID transmission. OSHA recommends that K-12 schools’ staff and students wear masks regardless of vaccinations.
- WFPS should be providing a safe learning environment for all students. Since the beginning of the year 374 students have had COVID. We know some of these cases have been transmission in class since several classrooms have had to quarantine and/or mask up this year. In addition, I have had several students out for weeks with COVID – this is not helping them academically. In e-mails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, Superintendent Beth Slette has said that last year we made decisions based on the whole child. This year the district claims to be listening to the community (even though the community is divided on this issue). Your decisions should only be based on what is best for the child because they are under WFPS care during school.
- The metric plan is not supported by ND DOH or by FCPH. At the school board meeting on Sept. 8, Slette discussed that the metric guidelines were created with the return to learn team. It was failed to mention that the return to learn team looks way different then last year. The team does not have any infectious disease experts and the only medical professional on the team is a retired geriatrician (which is not an expert on mitigation COVID). In addition, the school board and Slette failed to inform the public that they received a letter from FCPH that afternoon saying that the metric guidelines for the district are not sufficient.
- Unvaccinated children are more susceptible to the delta variant of COVID than previous variants. In November of 2020, the positive active cases count in Cass count was about 1,700 and the positive COVID tests in the 0-9 age group in Cass County trended upward the highest amount of 29 positive cases in one day. In September of 2021, the positive cases count in Cass County was about 750 and the positive COVID tests in the 0-9 age group in Cass County trended upward with the highest amount of 33 positive cases in one day. Logically, one can conclude that since the trend in positive cases in 0-9 in November of 2020 and September of 2021 are similar yet the number of active cases in Cass county in September of 2021 are less than the number of active cases in November of 2020 that the 0-9 age group is more likely to contract the delta variant because they are the only group where no one is currently vaccinated as well as the delta variant is more contagious than other variants for youth. (Data was obtained from ND DOH data download.)
Based on all of the information above and also knowing that hospitals are full, please implement the additional COVID mitigations below in our district.
- Reinstate a mandatory mask-policy for WFPS students, teachers, and staff.
- Ensure WFPS buses are complying with the existing CDC order for masking on public transportation
- Reinstate true contact tracing within the school district.
Shaina Eagleson is a teacher in West Fargo Public School District
This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.