Gardner-Edgerton parents have questions about quarantine for middle-schoolers

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GARDNER, Kan. – Parents are frustrated that their middle-schoolers can’t go to class Monday after the Gardner-Edgerton School District told them they had to quarantine.

In an email the district sent to parents, the district said they must stay home after there was a COVID-19 high-risk exposure between the 7th and 8th grade classes at Trail Ridge Middle School.

“I have requested for her time of exposure, class period, the activity, the duration of the exposure, the symptoms that the ill child was demonstrating?” Katherine O’Toole, the parent of an 8th grade student said.

She has questions about the tests used to determine these positive cases.

O’Toole told FOX4 this will be her daughter’s second time having to stay home.

“At the completion of her second quarantine, she will have missed 11 of the 16 school days. She will have only attended only 31% of the time,” O’Toole said.

According to the email, students will not be able to return to class until Sept. 7.

“Our frustrations are with exclusion of our healthy children and lack of the equitable education being provided,” O’Toole said.

As of Sunday, Trail Ridge Middle School parents received a voicemail that referenced the need for 7th and 8th graders to quarantine.

The school district’s website states it follows Johnson County Department of Health and Environment’s guidelines and recommendations when it comes to quarantines.

The district also has a COVID-19 dashboard that provides parents with the number of COVID-19 cases within the district.

As of last week, it said there are 11 positive cases in the district’s three middle schools. It also said there are 97 in quarantine.

Amanda Walker, another parent in the district, said those numbers seem skewed and it doesn’t indicate what middle school the cases are.

“They are not giving us the numbers specific for Trail Ridge. That’s what we are asking for,” Walker said.

She believes that students who aren’t displaying symptoms should have a right to go back to class. 

“Are they going to deny us to take our children to school? That’s a violation of our parental rights,” Walker said.

With the recent passage of House Bill 2134, Kansas school districts cannot conduct more than 40 hours of remote learning or it could face losing its funding.

FOX4 contacted the school district and wanted to know how it will address curriculum gaps if students have to quarantine multiple times.

Parents like O’Toole worry if her child remains at home she could fall behind in classes.

“There are going to be gaps in curriculum, there will be gaps in knowledge. And what does that look like when kids come back to class,” she said.

Walker told FOX4 she and other parents would at least like some remote learning to keep students up to speed in class.

“So our children are at home, they are perfectly healthy children, and they are not getting the education that they need,” Walker said.

O’Toole hopes the district can provide her with answers to her concerns and solutions to make sure children don’t fall behind.

“I’m going to hope that they take to heart the need for those kids to have real learning. And I hope that they are going to give us some of that virtual time,” O’Toole said.

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