Viking Saga

If a Student Tests Positive for COVID-19…

Jamie Kim

Procedures for a COVID situation in EL

Social distancing, wearing masks, and running the hybrid model are the safety guidelines schools use to prevent COVID-19 from being contracted and spread; but, what happens if someone in East Lyme falls victim to the infamous virus? Over the summer, the EL Board of Education, Superintendent, and the state Department of Public Health (DPH) developed plans for this type of situation. A protocol explaining these procedures tells how learning will be impacted and contact tracing put in place. “I am the contact person if someone tests positive, and I am in direct contact with the Department of Health and our medical advisor,” said superintendent Jeff Newton. “There’s a process where [the DPH] will require the student or staff member to complete and send me a form, then I immediately start working with the [DPH] and the medical advisor on the next steps of contact tracing.” “Trying to pinpoint who has the virus is complicated because there’s a difference between a suspected case and a case,” said BOE member Eric Bauman. “If someone’s not feeling well and might show some COVID symptoms, which is a suspected case, they will have to be tested. Depending on what test they take, the person will have to wait from 24 hours to a matter of days to get the data back, and they could test positive but have interacted with a student from a different cohort or have siblings in the other schools.” There are two different situations. If there is one case, there would only be a closure of one building for two to three days, since the virus dies on surfaces after that time. If there are lots of cases across EL, the entire district would close for 10 to 14 days. If a student shows the symptoms of COVID during school, they will be taken to an isolation room and examined by the nurse. It will then be determined whether or not the student needs to go home and be tested. If the student tests positive, they will need to quarantine. Nurses were trained to make this determination. “If a student is outside of the building and they find out they’re sick, the procedures will be similar,” said interim principal Deb Kelly. “The student will inform the school and then will spend a period of time in quarantine.” This is part of why students are separated into cohorts; not only does it encourage social distancing, but it limits how many people the infected person could have come in contact with. “If someone in the middle school or elementary schools tested positive, it would only affect that school and the high school would not need to shut down,” said Ms. Kelly. “If a brother or sister tests positive in one of the elementary schools or middle school,
though, then their siblings would also have to be tested because they have had regular contact with the infected child.” Sports will also be affected depending on who the infected person has come in contact
with. If the infected person hasn’t come in contact with many athletes, sports will continue. If schools shut down, sports will be cancelled too. The decision for the sport to be cancelled for the year depends on the
recommendations from the DPH. “The hope is that we don’t get to a point like the spring where we were gone for an extended period of time,” said Ms. Kelly. “If everyone does what they’re supposed to do, then the chances of us transmitting the virus will be low.”

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