One day into the school year, a student at a junior high school in Indiana has tested positive for coronavirus
Over the last few months, one of the most heated discussions amongst politicians, educators, health experts, and parents is how to execute the 2020-2021 school year in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Those in favor of in-class learning lean on the argument that children aren’t very likely to get ill despite the fact that this argument is continually challenged. Those in favor of virtual learning are aware that kids, primarily those over 10, can still spread the virus to adults. This week one Indiana school kicked off the school year, opting for in-person learning. And, guess what? On the very first day, within hours of the school bell ringing, one of their students tested positive for the virus.
On Thursday, the Hancock County Health Department notified Greenfield-Central Junior High School that one of their students had tested positive for the virus. According to a statement made to the Associated Press, the student had been tested for the virus days earlier, but the school wasn’t notified of their test result until halfway through the day. They didn’t offer an explanation as to why the student was allowed at school before his test result came back.
In a letter sent home to parents, district Superintendent Dr. Harold Olin revealed the startling news. “We understand that this information will cause concern for some of you. It was very evident today that nearly all of our families and students were prepared to properly follow the safety protocols we have established,” Olin wrote in the letter obtained by CNN. “Adhering to these protocols is essential for maintaining a safe environment for all students and staff.”
Even though the infection has already arrived at the school, Olin isn’t worried. “This really does not change our plans,” he told the AP. “We knew that we would have a positive case at some point in the fall. We simply did not think it would happen on Day One.”
In his letter to parents, Olin explained that as soon as he was notified of the student’s illness the school promptly enacted its “Positive Covid-19 Test Protocol.” This included isolating the student inside of the school’s clinic, examining the student’s schedule and identifying teachers, students, staff, and anyone else they could have come into contact with. He also insisted that in addition to regular disinfecting of the school, special attention would be given to areas the student had been in. Additionally, anyone identified as a “close contact” will be required to quarantine for 14 days before returning to school. If they test positive, they can only return to school after isolating for 10 days and remaining symptom-free for 72 hours.
Families at the school had some major feelings about the situation — as did people on social media, of course.
My hometown went back to school today. This afternoon, the first positive Covid-19 student was identified and so the containment effort began.
For those keeping score, in person education during an unmitigated epidemic lasted 5 hours before its first outbreak.
— Travis Rieder (@TNREthx) July 31, 2020
An Indiana school couldn’t make it through its first day of reopening without a coronavirus scare. https://t.co/ewJOkZ295I
— Chris Megerian (@ChrisMegerian) August 1, 2020
“I think it’s kind of selfish of the parents of the student, sending their kids to school or kid to school knowing that they may or may not have it,” Samantha Kiefer, whose daughter is in eighth grade at the school, told the Indy Star.
“If there’s a chance that they could be positive, they should do the quarantine until they do know the results of it,” Patty Brouk, whose granddaughter is in eighth grade, also told the publication.
Greenfield-Central gave families the option of sending their children back to school for in-person learning or continue to work at home remotely. Only 15 percent of students choose to stay home.