What the Lodi School District is doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among students and staff seems to be working.
So, for the time being, the district is going to continue to employ the recommendations put forth by its medical advisory committee in September.
“Reason being is the state of Wisconsin continues to have high transmission rates,” said District Administrator Vince Breunig. “Columbia County continues to have high transmission rates, and the transmission rates within our district are pretty high, but our COVID transmission within the buildings is low, and our mitigation efforts are keeping kids in school and our learning environment.”
An update on staff and students’ COVID cases was provided at the meeting. Between Sept. 1-5, there were five total cases in Lodi schools. That number dropped to one during Sept. 6-12, but it spiked to 17 the next week. Breunig said school officials expected it to rise following holiday activities associated with Labor Day.
Total cases fell again the weeks of Sept. 20-26 and Sept. 27-Oct. 1, decreasing to two and three, respectively.
The medical advisory committee, consisting of local and area doctors, met on Oct. 5 to study COVID data from the Department of Health Services and the school district. The committee unanimously endorsed keeping in place the mitigation strategies currently in use.
In a September letter, the committee laid out reasons for reinstating COVID-19 mitigation strategies for the district with the arrival of the Delta variant and its increased transmissibility.
Among its recommendations were: everyone who is eligible should get a COVID-19 vaccine; universal face coverings for students, staff and visitors at the 4K-12 level in the indoor school setting; physical distancing; testing for symptomatic students and staff; and quarantining for students and staff who are not vaccinated and are close contacts of COVID-19 positive individuals.
In addition, the committee addressed questions regarding differences in quarantine policy for students and staff who are vaccinated and those who aren’t vaccinated.
The committee letter noted that the rate of infection for unvaccinated people is higher than that of vaccinated individuals.
The letter states, “According to the most recent Department of Health Services data, cases of COVID-19 are 4x higher in unvaccinated people than vaccinated people. According to data from Public Health Madison Dane County, during the 14-day period prior to this letter, not fully vaccinated youth ages 12-15 had a case rate of 1,034.5 per 100,000, which was the highest rate among all age groups in the county, and was 20.1 times higher than the case rate for fully vaccinated youth ages 12-15, which was 51.5: the lowest rate among all age groups.”
Furthermore, the committee explains that vaccinated people who get infected with COVID usually have fewer overall symptoms and get rid of the infection faster. Lastly, the committee also recommends “… for vaccinated people who are a close contact to an infected COVID-19 individual should wear a face covering in all public indoor settings for 14 days after exposure and get tested 3-5 days after exposure. As with all exposed individuals, they should monitor closely for symptoms and get tested if any symptoms arise anytime during the 14-day period.”
In response to a question from the board, Breunig said that staff and students who are vaccinated won’t be quarantined if there is a close contact.
Breunig also related to the board that the committee realizes that people can still get COVID even if vaccinated or wearing a mask.
The committee’s correspondence concluded, “As we stated at the end of our last letter, we understand that medicine does not have all the answers right now when it comes to COVID-19 as we continue to learn more about this virus each day. These recommendations are based on what we currently know about COVID-19 through our practice, through the current data, and through medical research.”