Contact tracing leads to student quarantines

Contact tracing, which involves identifying individuals who have contracted the coronavirus as well as the people they’ve come into contact with, is in full affect on campus.

“People will only be sent home for contact to a positive not a contact to a contact,” Assistant Principal Catherine Halbuer said.

If a classroom were to become infected the school’s cleaning crew is fully prepared.

“Our custodians are doing a fabulous job, cleaning railings and touch surfaces twice a day,” Halbuer said. “What happens is they will go in and do a more thorough cleaning with an instrument that fogs the same chemical before we finally wipe it down.”

West Shore Administration does not call all the shots around COVID decisions.

“District has a crew from environmental services that will test different parts of the room,” Halbuer said. “Then they give us a report that tells us whether the room is allowed to be reoccupied or whether the custodians have not cleaned correctly, meaning they won’t release the room.”

The process of contact tracing is time-consuming, according to Halbuer.

“If somebody tests positive we will call them up and get directions from whoever they were in contact with,” Halbuer said. “Then we report that to that district who reaches out to the Department Of Health who verifies the positivity of that person before they notify the district. That tells us who has to be placed in quarantine because of a close contact with a case.”

Junior Madeleine Coalter has gone through the contact-to-a-positive process.

“I was called to the office and given a letter saying I had been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID at school,” Coalter said. “I was told to leave campus and to not return for two weeks.”

Being forced to quarantine can be difficult.

“It is hard for me to stay home because I take AP chemistry so it’s difficult doing labs from home,” Coalter said. “ I am also on the cheer team and being in quarantined has caused me to miss six practices. It’s been hard on my family since both of my parents work full time.”

Coalter said she doesn’t agree with parts of the process.

“I understand why it is important for the school to contract trace because the safety of the students and faculty comes first, however I believe some of the rules don’t make sense,” Coalter said. “Teachers who have exposures are told to go to school, but students have to quarantine for two weeks. That being said, it’s not up to the school to create the rules, they are guidelines placed by the district.”

By Garrett Martin