COVID Response Procedures Followed After Two Confirmed Cases

After+only+a+month+of+in-person+school+being+reopened%2C+San+Juan+Hills+High+School+has+already+seen+two+cases+at+school.+In+response%2C+school+administration+has+taken+precautions+to+ensure+the+safety+of+students+and+staff.

Sandhya Ganesan

After only a month of in-person school being reopened, San Juan Hills High School has already seen two cases at school. In response, school administration has taken precautions to ensure the safety of students and staff.

Sandhya Ganesan, News Editor

With the return to in-person school and the continuous rise in cases, safety precautions must be taken that are both preventative to the spread of the coronavirus, but also precautions for when a stallion contracts the virus. This is something that SJHHS has done, and they have carried out both measures to ensure the safety of all students, despite there being two confirmed cases

COVID tests results of a child must be shared with the school by a legal guardian, and those confirmed cases are published on the California Dashboard of cases. 

The school does not test anyone, and if students do exhibit symptoms of the virus at school, they are sent to the nurse, however they aren’t tested there either, they are sent home. 

There is a published symptom tree with classifications that have been recently updated. Low risks symptoms include congestion, a fever of 100.4 or less, a runny nose, nausea, sore throat, or a headache or body ache.

“Any symptoms you have it is recommended you see a doctor and it is recommended you get tested, but we can’t mandate that. But if a low risk symptom stops, you can return to school after 24 hours,” said principal, Dr. Manoj Mahindrakar.  

With the current system of cohorts that is in place, this period of time where a student is sent home is not impactful to their hybrid schedule, as they would be online the following day regardless. 

If a student exhibits two or more of these low risks systems, the student is sent home and is only permitted to return with a written note of approval from their doctor, confirming they are COVID free. 

In the event of a student having COVID, the student would have to isolate themselves for ten days, and the school would follow their procedures. “With that information, the school site, so San Juan Hills, would forward the information of the student to the district’s COVID reporting team,” said Mahindrakar. 

The COVID reporting director would then be called, and that director would start a process that the OC Health Care Agency would be involved in. The OCHCA does an investigation and contact tracing, and would interview the positive student and determine the impact of the case on the school. 

“They would ask ‘were you in close contact with people,’ and close contact is within 6 feet of someone for 15 minutes or more, or ‘at any point was your mask off,’ and they make a risk assessment based on that,” said Mahindrakar. 

Every phase is something new for the school or teachers without much lead up time to it. It’s basically like here’s what we need to do, and do it tomorrow. With anything, people get better as they do it,”

— Mahindrakar

The agency would then contact people who would be classified as a close contact and interview them about the details of the interaction such as the amount of time. 

“The healthcare agency is the one that actually directs the subsequent decision of whether someone else has to stay home, does a classroom have to be closed, or does the school shut down,” said Mahindrakar. 

After the agency determines the nature of the case, they provide the school with a community letter that is published on the dashboard confirming their findings. 

With the previous confirmed cases, both of the two were determined to be low impact, and the whole process was completed without major disruptions.

Despite the admitted challenges of the new format, procedures are in place to keep the student body safe and on a continuous path to returning to normal. 

“Every phase is something new for the school or teachers without much lead up time to it. It’s basically like here’s what we need to do, and do it tomorrow. With anything, people get better as they do it. Every new phase that’s new brings out new challenges and practices,” said Mahindrakar. 

While there have been challenges, it is safe to say that everyone realizes how monumental it is that school has been operating for a month both in person and online, which is probably the first occurrence in the history of education. 

“I think that our students have been really good at following safety protocols for the most part. I see people masking up and keeping their space. Obviously there are still hundreds of people here, so it’s not sparse and keeping that distance will always be hard. But, I’ve been proud of our students for following along with it for the most part,” said Mahindrakar.