Health department looks to contact tracing for upcoming school year

1 month 3 weeks 6 hours ago Monday, August 10 2020 Aug 10, 2020 Monday, August 10, 2020 2:43:00 PM CDT August 10, 2020 in News
By: Jasmine Lotts, KOMU 8 Reporter

COLUMBIA - Boone County's public health staff have a plan for contact tracing in the upcoming school year

According to the Boone County Public Health and Human Services assistant director, Scott Clardy, this includes reaching out to an individual or their guardian once that person has been diagnosed with COVID-19. 


Once the person has been contacted, the health department will interview the individual with questions regarding to their symptoms and who their close contacts may have been.

 
After the health department has received this information, the health department will work close with the school’s nurses in order to reach out to close contacts that may have been exposed to COVID-19.  


Then, Clardy explained that it is up for the school to decide what to do next.

 Clardy said each school has their own technique and plan. 


“They have plans in place to do the right thing like isolation for example. We reviewed all of the private and public schools’ plans—we talk to some schools almost every day and they are really interested in doing things the right way," he said. 


The health department  asked for schools to conduct assigned seating so it can be easier to track down who an affected student may have exposed.

 
“If schools don’t have assigned seating, instead of having five or six students out for 14 days you may have to have the whole classroom for 14 days and that wouldn't have been necessary if they would have just kept the folks in their assigned seats," Clardy said. "So, that's what we've tried to explain to schools and I think most of them understand.”


Parents of the school are not allowed to know which student has been affected due to federal privacy laws. 


“When we call them and tell them that they’ve been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, they want to know who," Clardy said." I would want to know also if I got a call like that. But the fact of the matter is that there’s federal law that just simply prohibits us from identifying that individual."


Clardy said the department has received funding from the CARES act which will allow them to hire more contact tracers to work large systems like schools.

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