By Chad Koenen


A new vaccination, testing and face covering plan for Henning School District employees will once again undergo some changes after the United Stated Supreme Court struck down a federal mandate for vaccination, or increased testing, as part of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During its regularly scheduled meeting last Monday night, the school board approved its updated COVID-19 vaccination, testing and face covering plan. The plan coincided with the federal mandate revolving around organizations with more than 100 employees. Failure for the school district to comply with the federal guidelines would have resulted in fines in excess of $100,000. 

Now that the United States Supreme Court struck down the federal mandate, Henning School Superintendent Melissa Sparks said unvaccinated employees will not be required to wear face masks and be subject to increased testing that were required by the federal mandate. 

In addition to the vaccination, testing and face covering plan; the school board approved an update to its return to in-person learning COVID-19 plan. 

As part of the policy, without a negative test, any “more common” or two “less common” symptoms will be treated as a positive COVID-19 test result for the purpose of quarantine guidelines. However, without an official positive result, a student/staff member will not be provided a 90-day immunity period following quarantine. 

More common symptoms include a fever of 100.4 or higher, new onset or worsening cough, difficulty breathing and a new loss of taste or smell.

Less common symptoms include a sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain, new onset of severe headache, new onset of nasal congestion, running nose, chills or extreme fatigue. 

The district changed the quarantine period for positive COVID-19 individuals to five days, provided their symptoms are resolving (without a fever for 24 hours). The students and staff members must wear a mask for the next five days. 

As far as close contact, the policy states that household associated close contacts who are not fully vaccinated can continue in-person learning during their quarantine period so long as they remain symptom free and wear a mask while in school. They must complete a test twice during the seven day exposure period with at least 24 hours in-between. 

For non-household associated close contacts, the testing requirements are the same, but students and staff will not be required to wear a mask if unvaccinated. 

Close contacts who elect not to get the COVID-19 test may return after seven days. 

An individual who has been vaccinated, or has had a documented positive test result within the last 90 days, will not be required to quarantine based on being a close contact, they will be expected to self-monitor for symptoms for 10 days. 

In other news

• Approved changing the date of the regularly scheduled meetings from the third Monday of the month to the second Monday of the month through at least July. The exception to that will be in May when the meeting will be held on either May 2 or May 23. 

• Heard the Minnesota High School League approved adding a shot clock for JV and varsity basketball games beginning with the 2023-24 season. Daktronics was at the school recently and their quote for adding a shot clock was $4,928. 

• Heard of a concern about the high school gym floor. The current gym floor was the original gym floor from the 1960s and is beginning to get slippery, hard and unforgiving. Some of the floorboards are also beginning to separate from one another instead of fitting tight together. Athletic Director Randy Misegades said the floor will need to be replaced in the near future and is becoming a safety concern for students and athletes alike. The school board said it will discuss the gym floor with its larger facilities plan that is being completed by ICS. 

• Heard the school district recently received ESSERS III funding in two different categories. The district received $162,888.49 for its after school and summer enrichment programs , as well as $651,553.94 for school improvements like HVAC. As part of the funding the district completed two different surveys by both students and families in the district regarding the needs of students and how the district can better serve them since the pandemic.