Positive response

SHS has a step-by-step plan if a positive COVID-19 test is reported


Kelsey Jones

SHS has a plan in place if someone in the building tests positive for COVID-19. Nurse Bethany Mendez is one of the nurses that can assess symptoms.

Students returned to the 2020-2021 school year in early August with masks on, a six-foot distance in class and completely online schoolwork. These are just some of the precautions that come with in-person school during a worldwide pandemic.

While the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t necessarily new, it is new to an in-person school environment. Due to the unknown certainty of the situation, SHS has put in various health and safety measures to be potentially used if a student or staff member tests positive.

Principal Brian Knight says SHS students have done a good job abiding to the safety measures, especially mask wearing.
“The students, you guys have been fantastic,” Knight said.

Because this virus can infect a person for two to six weeks, most deadlines for work will be flexible, and students will be able to make up their work without too much worry about due dates, according to Knight.

“We would work individually with that kid and make sure they had time to get done what they needed to get done,” Knight said. “I can’t see us setting a hard deadline of ‘By the end of next week, it has to be done absolutely.’”

If a student were to start to feel sick during the day with symptoms of COVID-19, they would report to the nurse’s office as soon as possible. The nurse would take the student’s temperature and assess the student based on the symptoms they choose to share with the nurses. However, they cannot determine if the student is COVID-19 positive based solely on symptoms.

“The symptoms of COVID-19 mirror the symptoms of so many other viruses and illnesses that we don’t make that determination,” Bethany Mendez, a SHS nurse, said.
According to Knight, if a student did test positive, and was at school within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms, the school would begin contact tracing. They’d look for any students that were within six feet of the infected student for 15 minutes or more. If anyone had been in close contact with the infected student for under 15 minutes, they would be deemed safe and could continue going to school as normal.

In this situation, the student who tested positive would quarantine for 10 days, while any students who were exposed for those 15 or more minutes would quarantine for 14 days.
According to Keesha Hughes, Communications Director for Superintendent Patrick Mapes, a student would be safe to come back 10 days from when symptoms begin to show or the day they got tested.

“After contact tracing is complete, nurses call everyone in the school (i.e. teachers, staff, students) who had close contact with the individual,” Hughes wrote in an email to The Journal. “Nurses provide instructions for quarantining and monitoring symptoms.”

When a football player tested positive on Aug. 21, the administration immediately used the roster to determine which players played the same position and had substantial contact with the infected student and informed their parents of the situation.

After the parents of those students were informed, a message went out to the entire school about the situation, and the game the following day was cancelled.
SHS talked to health officials for guidance, and the team was able to play their first game last Friday.

The nature of COVID-19 has brought on new challenges for SHS to ensure the safety of all students. But, in Knight’s opinion, SHS administration has taken swift action when certain scenarios have arisen.

“I felt like even though we’ve never done it before, we were pretty efficient in the process,” Knight said.