How are Springfield schools doing contact tracing for COVID-19?
As the school year continues during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, schools crucially continue to conduct contact tracing for the virus.
However, questions about the process often arise as COVID cases inevitably appear in schools.
Springfield public school students have had the most COVID-19 cases of any district in the county, with 582 cases since the pandemic began. The Eugene 4J School District has had 572 cases. However, Springfield has less than half of Eugene’s estimated population, meaning Springfield’s case rate is 945.2 per 100,000 people, while 4J’s rate is 464.7. Bethel also has a high rate, at 903 per 100,000 people, although its number of cases is much lower, at 291 in total.
Springfield has created an online dashboard that will track its cases among students and staff, and separate them by school to show where any spread is occurring. The latest information shows 39 active student cases and five active staff cases.
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about schools that track these cases.
What is contact tracing?
Contact tracing is one method to track the spread of COVID-19. When someone tests positive for COVID-19, people working in or alongside public health agencies identify other people who may have been exposed to the virus based on when and how long they were with the tested person. positive and their physical distance. Potentially exposed people are contacted so that they are informed and can take precautions.
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When does this happen?
Public health officials, and now schools, will notify someone if they have been in close contact with someone who tested positive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies a “close contact” as someone who has been within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period.
Springfield’s website says it also makes additional notifications.
“All individuals identified as close contacts will be contacted directly, notified of exposure, and provided with information on appropriate measures, including recommended testing for close contacts and required quarantine for close contacts who are not fully vaccinated,” the website reads. “Typically, all close contacts are identified and notified within 1-2 days of first becoming aware of the case. Certain circumstances such as complex contact tracing may take longer.”
The website also says the district will identify everyone in a cohort with someone with COVID-19 and notify parents and staff that a case has been found within that cohort, “normally in a one day after completion of contact tracing”.
Are schools required to do this?
The Oregon Department of Education’s new framework for the school year has few requirements, but many strong recommendations or advice. Schools are required to have a mask and for all employees to be fully vaccinated by October 18, under the direction of Governor Kate Brown, for example.
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School districts must also submit “Communicable Disease Management Plans,” which must include the procedure they will use to communicate with people about possible exposure to COVID-19. This includes contact tracing.
The ODE “strongly advises” schools to maintain “a system of daily record keeping for each student/cohort for the purpose of contact tracing” and that the system be established in consultation with a school or district nurse or a public health official.
Who does it in Springfield schools?
The district has the equivalent of two full-time staff members and one part-time staff member dedicated to contact tracing, said Brett Yancey, director of operations for Springfield Schools. Health services and support staff are the ones doing the bulk of professional contact tracing, according to spokeswoman Jen McCulley.
When should students quarantine, self-isolate?
Springfield schools are following protocols that align with Lane County public health guidelines, as are Bethel and Eugene school districts. According to this guidance, the response of districts depends on whether people are vaccinated or not.
School district contact tracers are working to identify who was a close contact. If these people have not been vaccinated and have been exposed to the infected person, they are quarantined for 14 days from the last date of exposure.
Following:My student has just tested positive for COVID. Now what will their school do?
Under the current direction of LCPH, people who have been exposed but are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do not need to self-quarantine if they do not have symptoms and have not had a COVID-19 test. 19 positive.
How will you be contacted?
Close contact cases who will need to be quarantined receive a phone call, email and text notification to ensure they are aware of a potential exposure, Yancey said in an email.
Cohorts will also be notified through the district’s email notification system.
“I think what we can really reassure our parents is that if your student meets the definition of a close contact, you will be notified,” McCulley said. “Even in situations where students are vaccinated, we are sending out a ‘hey please be extra vigilant and monitor students for any notices of additional symptoms’.”
Should families do something?
If families realize their student is sick, they should not send them to school. Families should also notify districts if their student is confirmed or presumed to have COVID-19, has been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or is being tested for it due to symptoms.
Vaccinations are also still encouraged by LCPH for everyone 12 and older and are available countywide at any pharmacy and public health site.
More information about children and vaccination can be found on the county’s website.
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Do schools participate in testing programs?
Springfield participates in the free COVID-19 testing program set up by the University of Oregon and the Oregon Health Authority.
It is an opt-in program, so students and families must register with the district to participate. Those who are enrolled bring a test kit home each week, collect their saliva sample and bring it back to school on a designated day.
UO then collects the tests and takes them to its lab for testing. The Bethel and Eugene school districts also participate in this testing program.
Families wishing to enroll their students should contact their school.
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What else does the Springfield district do?
The district also purchased 35 new disinfection devices using $1.2 million in federal funds intended to promote safe schools during the pandemic.
These devices are called Arcs, which feature hospital-grade UV-C disinfection technology from biosafety company R-Zero, an announcement on the website says. These are non-contact germicidal cleaning devices that are used by after-school care staff, which disinfect the space they are in in seven minutes.
This technology is also used in a school district in Nevada and in several districts in Washington State.
Contact journalist Jordyn Brown at [email protected] or 541-246-4264, and follow her on Twitter @thejordynbrown and Instagram @registerguard. Support local journalism, subscribe to The Register-Guard.