In order to take preventative cautions against the spread of COVID-19, Collier County Public Schools have implemented contact tracing, which is a practice encouraged by the CDC and follows specified guidelines set forth by health professionals.
This practice pulls students out of in-person school if they have been exposed to someone who tested positive for coronavirus. Although it is necessary and helps keep students and faculty safe, how does being contact traced affect student learning?
There are specific guidelines that dictate when a student should be contacted traced and separated from in-person learning.
“A student is contact traced if they have been around someone who has tested positive in an area less than six feet for more than 15 minutes in a 24 hour period,” Naples High School nurse Erin Salvi said.
Students must stay home for a 10-day quarantine period, unless the contact traced student begins to show covid symptoms, then the contact must be quarantined for a longer period.
“If there’s no end date, for instance, if it’s someone who lives in a household with another person who tested positive, and they can’t isolate, their quarantine periods are going to be longer, so it could even be 25 days or more,” Salvi said.
Amidst navigating through this process of being pulled out of school suddenly, students have learned to be resilient and adjust to online learning. Quarantined students have found teachers to be helpful and considerate of the situation, helping ensure schoolwork is still able to be completed and learning is continued at home.
“My teachers had everything on Canvas that I needed, including a bunch of instructions with each assignment, and [they] answered back really quickly,” previously contact-traced sophomore Chloe Holcomb said. “My teachers understood if I couldn’t complete an assignment; they were all very reasonable.”
Along with students, the process of contact tracing is also impactful on teachers. Teachers must be able to shift assignments to be able to be completed online without much notice.
“As soon as they’re sent home to quarantine and they go from being in class to being online, there’s always a disconnect,” environmental science and biology teacher Amy Lawson said. “I don’t think there’s an alternative, but it’s really hard on the kids to have to be suddenly stuck in their room at home because they’ve come in contact with somebody.”
Teachers have also found difficulty in the communication aspect between them and quarantined students, as some students become distant and non-responsive to messages.
“Some students don’t check their email or listen to announcements,” Lawson said. “You’re never quite sure if they’re doing the stuff they’re supposed to be doing. It all comes back to how responsible the individual student is.”
Contact tracing has become a necessary practice in keeping both students and faculty safe. They have learned that flexibility and understanding go a long way in ensuring the quality of learning remains consistent.
“Nobody wants to see their kids go out, you want to see them face to face,” Lawson said. “You know, I wish we had a better alternative, but we really don’t.”
For more information on contact tracing and how Collier County is handling the spread of COVID-19, visit http://collier.floridahealth.gov/.