LCO School Superintendent Concerned About Students Getting Behind
By Joe Morey
LCO Ojibwe School Superintendent Jessica “Hutch” Hutchison reported to the TGB the school is struggling with staffing issues over current Covid policies, and she also shared concerns about students who are ‘getting behind’ due to quarantining from contact tracing.
Hutch told the TGB that five other schools in the area have adopted a policy of allowing parents to decide whether to quarantine their student for contact tracing, including Spooner.
At their Nov. 1st School Board Meeting, Hayward also chose to leave quarantining optional. The school will notify parents if their child has been in close contact with another student who tests positive with Covid, but will leave it up to parents to decide if their child is symptomatic, needs to be tested or should quarantine.
“I only bring this up because of how many of our kids were already out of school this year for weeks due to illness, and they are getting behind,” Hutch stated. She added that not one of the current 18 cases at LCO can be traced to the school.
LCO Vice Chairwoman said if the Tribe goes backwards on its policies or downplays the pandemic, “It could go the other way, so we still have to protect our people. We have to continue to be cautious.”
Hutch stated that the school still remains cautious, adding that LCO remains the only school in the region still requiring a mask be worn when in the building.
“If we continue to contact trace and the other schools in our area aren’t, we may lose students back to Hayward and other schools if we keep them out,” Hutch stated. She said the current contact tracing quarantine time is 10 days, which can be a lot when students have already been out for long periods when they were sick or showing symptoms.
“Parents and students are tired of missing school, missing sports,” Hutch said.
Regarding current policies for staff, Hutch said the school is paying Covid pay for staff members who are the only care giver of a child that is required to quarantine from the day care or Headstart.
“We currently have three staff that are out for the week but have had a number of staff impacted and we are seriously struggling to find substitute teachers for all the people that are out,” Hutch added.
Hutch said the school is not paying Covid pay to any staff that get infected if they are not vaccinated.
Hutch also shared with the TGB that the school is struggling when staff members use all their allowable days for funeral leave. She said the amount of funerals has been monumental this year.