We have all received the emails containing the subject line, “Important COVID Update,” regarding recent exposures our school has had with COVID-19. In fact, there was one sent out two days ago. By opening the link sent in this email, one can see the efforts the school is going to in order to keep students safe from the virus. 


However, many students are saying that it would be more helpful if the name of the student who contracted the virus was disclosed, that way they can be the judge of whether they were within six feet of them and need to quarantine. Although many people say this is the safer option, there are strict guidelines the school must follow (HIPAA) in order to keep patient confidentiality. However, the school is taking precautions you might not have known about in order to keep hybrid learning an option. 


Once someone tests positive, the first step is an interview. This takes place between the student and the COVID Response Team, which is composed of the principals and the nurse. Questions such as when their symptoms arose, what the symptoms were, and when they were initially exposed are covered in the interview.


After an interview takes place, teachers of the student are contacted. Although teachers are required to seat each student at least six feet apart, there are instances in which this is broken. The COVID Response Team finds out from the teacher what took place in class during the days the student was in class, and if they were not social distancing during the period. 


If someone was in close contact, they are notified by the school. These contacts may include classmates, the person they ate lunch with, someone they chatted with in the hall, or teammates. “We call [all the close contacts] and they need to quarantine for 14 days,” Principal Polly Reikowksi said. “[They] can go get a COVID test, but it won’t be valid if they test negative. No one tests out of quarantine.”


One of the main concerns students have about exposure is the hallways. While walking during passing time, it’s evident that social distancing is not always happening or even possible. Reikowski, however, assured that this is not a danger for being exposed. “Fifteen minutes of exposure,” she said, is what the Health Department states is needed to contract the virus. “Walking past someone in the hallway, as long as they’re masked and you’re masked, it’s a very short interaction so you’re not going to get fifteen minutes of that.”


Although this is a source of worry, Reikowski and teachers try to enforce social distancing as much as they can, but are very proud of the way students handle the hallways. “If we see kids pausing or stopping we move them along,” she said, but noted that students are doing a great job of getting from class to class quickly and efficiently, so this is often not necessary.


Not knowing if you’ve been exposed is stressful, and the school understands that. Nevertheless, all of the precautions staff and the COVID Response Team are making should ensure the most amount of safety possible. 


If you are worried about being exposed, do your part to social distance while at school and sports, and always keep your mask on. The school does all that it can, but it’s up to you to do all you can as well.