The Brown County Commission gave it’s approval for the Health Department to implement a “modified quarantine” protocol within the county’s schools at Monday morning’s regular meeting.
Commissioners Richard Lehmkuhl and Dwight Kruse voted for the proposal and Commissioner Keith Olsen — who had said the county should not get involved in school issues — voted against it.
The proposal will have to be approved by the County Health Department and then adopted by local school districts if they so choose.
Robin Downard, county health officer, had introduced the modified quarantine proposal at last week’s county commission and the matter was tabled until this week. Last week, the county implemented a mask mandate through Dec. 7.
According to the modified quarantine proposal, the schools could adopt a protocol that would reduce the amount of people being affected by quarantines as long as the students and school staff had masks on within the environment — such as a classroom, which is considered lower risk as opposed to higher risk situations such as athletes and crowds at sporting events or other activities.
Downard told the commissioners that there had been three confirmed COVID cases due to school exposure and that was at the high school. She said there may be many others, as it was difficult to tell due to many students have not shown symptoms, or very mild ones such as headaches and allergy symptoms. In addition, she noted some people had decided just to “self-quarantine” rather than test for the virus, so reliable results have not been known.
Downard asked for the commissioners guidance so the Health Department could make a decision to pass onto the school districts — who then have the option to adopt it. She said the initiative is designed to keep more students and staff in the schools, rather than quarantining such mass numbers due to possible exposure.
“If an outbreak occurs, as the County Health Officer, I can revoke this if I need to,” she said.
Commissioners asked Downard what the current county numbers were as of Monday and she said there were 203 active cases, for a total of 609 in the county with 7 deaths and two pending on whether they were caused due to COVID-19. She estimated that there were roughly 1,000 in quarantine in the county as of that day and noted that she had two people helping her with contact tracing locally for higher risk patients, along with school staff and students to better keep track of. Lower risk patients were being tracked by the state.