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District not prompting vaccination, Foley says

Student says principal offered her early return with vaccine

The South Butler County School District superintendent said the district is not incentivizing students if they get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Allie Meyers, a junior at Knoch High School, said on Wednesday that she was pulled from history class Sept. 2 and told that she had been in contact with another student who received a positive COVID-19 test.

Per the district's policy, Allie was told she had to quarantine and study at home until Sept. 13, unless she could produce a negative COVID-19 test, she said.

Allie said Todd Trofimuk, Knoch High School principal, then told her that she could return to school Sept. 7 if she got a COVID-19 vaccine and presented a card.

She also said a classmate who is vaccinated was exposed to the virus at school, but was not required to quarantine.

“She got COVID and now she's in quarantine,” Allie said.

She said students who are not vaccinated and whose families do not believe in the vaccine are angry that they must quarantine upon exposure and the vaccinated students don't.

“I feel like if someone is going to get quarantined, then everyone who was exposed should have to, vaccinated or not,” Allie said.

Allie's mother, Jamie Shondeck, was upset when her daughter reported that she could come back to school sooner if she had the vaccine.

“I'm highly upset that the principal wants to force my daughter to get this vaccine,” Shondeck said. “He's not her parent.”

She agreed with her daughter that all students who come into contact with a positive case should quarantine.

Shondeck said she has read information stating that those who are vaccinated can still be carriers and infect the unvaccinated.

David Foley, district superintendent, said Thursday that he will check with Trofimuk about whether he is telling students they can return earlier if they get the vaccine.

“We are not getting in the middle of those family decisions,” Foley said. “That's not our job.”

Regarding the statewide mask mandate, which several parents protested at Wednesday's school board meeting, Foley said the district requires a doctor's note from the student's doctor to exempt them from wearing a mask.

Kara Zumach told the school board Wednesday that the state Department of Health in its mandate that all public school students wear masks recommended a student be exempted if the family “states” that their student cannot wear a mask.

Foley said the district is following recommendations from the state Department of Education that exemption requests include a doctor's note.

He said the district is also following a district plan, known as a 504 plan, to make accommodations in a classroom.

“The foundation is the doctor's note,” Foley said.

Other parents at the meeting mentioned the locking of doors and segregation of students based on masks.

Foley explained that administrators heard there might be a student walkout Tuesday, when the mask mandate took effect, so school police were positioned outside.

“The doors don't lock,” Foley said.

He said as of Thursday, a few students who chose not to wear their masks at school were taken home by parents and signed up for the Knoch Cyber Academy.

One student is livestreaming classes at school because he chooses not to wear a mask, but also cannot attend livestream classes at home.

Foley would not say which of the district's four school buildings the student attends.

As for Allie, she received a negative COVID-19 test from the nursing home where she works, which is the entity that provided the test.

She will return to school Monday, which is the soonest her employer can provide her with documentation that she received a negative result.