COVID-19 Protocol Effectiveness Begins to Raise Questions

Administrators+have+been+working+on+contact+tracing+since+the+return+to+school.+However%2C+members+on+campus+have+recently+begun+to+question+the+accuracy+of+the+tracking.

Art by Nikki Iyer

Administrators have been working on contact tracing since the return to school. However, members on campus have recently begun to question the accuracy of the tracking.

When a person on campus tests positive for COVID-19, generally, the school will send out an email with an attached form notifying the SJHHS community that someone caught the virus. It will never state any names or specific details for confidentiality. 

“The school community will be notified via email of a COVID-19 case that was infectious on the campus or facility. The notification will not name the person positive for the coronavirus but will give information regarding the date of the incident and whether a person is at low-risk or a close contact. If you or your child is a close contact, you will be notified,” said assistant principal Heather Bosworth.

However, there allegedly have been cases in which students tested positive and told administration, but their deskmates in close contact were not notified. For instance, one student claims he made administration aware he tested positive for COVID-19 the day after he knew, but his deskmates say they were never made aware. These students claim they were not told that they were in close contact with someone who tested positive, potentially creating worrisome situations in families. 

“I should’ve been told I was in close contact because I sit next to them in class every day. I’m not entirely sure of what role administration plays or if they even knew I was in close contact, but it was kind of scary that I was putting my family in danger and I didn’t even know,” said an anonymous student. 

Situations like these may be attributed to how “at risk” close contacts are calculated. The protocol for any student case on campus requires collaboration with the Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA) in order to contact infected students and families, and to notify close contacts.

I should’ve been told I was in close contact because I sit next to them in class every day. I’m not entirely sure of what role administration plays or if they even knew I was in close contact, but it was kind of scary that I was putting my family in danger and I didn’t even know”

— a student

“The District works with OCHCA to determine close contacts and low risk contacts,” said in an excerpt from the CUSD Covid-19 safety plan. ”The District Office designee will coordinate a response with OCHCA. After receiving direction from OCHCA, the District designee will only notify students, staff, and families who have been potentially exposed to COVID-19 and provide health recommendations and guidance from OCHCA.” 

In other situations in which COVID-19 infected students do not inform administration in a timely manner that they have the virus, administration may not be able to effectively trace close contacts.

Students on a two-week isolation period might find themselves struggling to keep up with school, as some teachers do not regularly upload canvas or post video lectures.

“I was quite behind in almost all of my classes. Not all teachers posted the work done in class on Canvas so I did not have work to do. When I came back I had 11 tests to make up. I am still making up those tests today,” said an anonymous student who had COVID-19.

Those unsure if they need to quarantine may use the “Student Symptom Tree” in order to determine if they need to quarantine at home.

As the COVID-19 school year continues, certain aspects of the process will continue to change. For instance, masking and distancing regulations, quarantine procedures, and visitor/volunteer guidelines have constantly been modified in response to the ever-changing virus.

“I want our SJHHS community to know that we are committed to providing a safe and healthy learning environment for all students and staff. We continue to receive and monitor guidance from state and local agencies and public health officials to ensure student and staff safety,” said Bosworth.