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Tri-County School Board expresses support on two-week masking requirement


Tri-County School recently had 47 students out due to COVID or the flu— about a quarter of its student body. At the board’s January 19 meeting, Tri-County interim Superintendent Ron Ruud made a proposal to the board.

“I’d like to propose to the board that… we go the next two weeks total masks in the school,” Ruud said.
The board expressed support for this proposal— specifically to require masks for two weeks officially starting on January 24 and monitoring the situation after those two weeks.

Ruud said a quarter of the student body gone is too much. He highlighted how the state considered 10% gone to be a reportable amount, but have backed off from this due to pandemic.

“But 25%, we got to do something,” Ruud said.

Kittson Central School in Hallock has gone to total masks two or three times and, reportedly, Ruud said it has proven to be a “miracle” as to what it does. He mentioned how they were going to go another two weeks with masks. Over those several times it has went to total masks, Kittson Central reportedly hasn’t received any phone calls from parents “refusing” or “bucking” it, Ruud said.

He has spoken to other schools in the area and some reported to him that they make recommendations, but don’t enforce anything.

When Ruud made this mask proposal he said it referred to everyone— custodians and anyone who walks in the building.

“If a parent refuses, the child will stay at home, and will get homework… My lungs work at 46% and I’ve sat here all evening talking through this mask, and it doesn’t bother me,” Ruud said. “There’s no reason. The kids are resilient. They’ll get through it no problem.”

Board member Denise Sollund later in the discussion mentioned how a school nearby has been successful with implementing the masking periods as needed, and the district should highlight that if anyone expresses any concerns over this.

Ruud expressed how he felt masks were the way to go, along with spreading students close to six feet apart.

“It works. We’ve seen it work. You’ve seen it work here,” Ruud said about previous precautions. “This school has not had the kind of cases that a lot of schools have had in the past years. But this year… we’ve just haven’t gotten it under control.”

He highlighted how the cases at the school are fluctuating— cases rising and falling repeatedly.

The district, according to Ruud had 27 students out due to COVID cases, 11 of them individuals with COVID and the remaining ones students who were siblings of these COVID-positive individuals.

A Certified Physician Assistant in family medicine at the Kittson Healthcare Karlstad Clinic, board member Karrah Oliver said the school has been recommending masks all year and added how the county positivity rate is high right now and its seeing more reinfection.

“It used to be kind of if you have it, you have kind of a 90-day safe period. That’s not true anymore,” Oliver said. “We’re seeing people… that were positive at Thanksgiving are now positive again. So I think a two-week masking period and then reevaluating at that point.”

Numerous board members expressed support in moving forward with a mask requirement. Board member Mark Koland mentioned how two young men from the community, Tri-County graduates, had close calls with this— at least one of them in rehab.

“It was pretty close for those two boys,” Koland said. “Even if we went three weeks (with masks), I’d be fine with that. I’ll take the backlash from the community.”

Ruud mentioned how they may not experience the backlash.

“Maybe they can see what the problem is,” Ruud said.

To see the complete story, read the January 27 issue of the North Star News in print or online.

1 Comment

  1. Joanne on February 2, 2022 at 2:55 pm

    Child abuse!

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