What does it take to quarantine students? D-20 COVID response team explains

Academy District 20
Academy District 20(Station)
Published: Nov. 10, 2020 at 6:41 PM MST
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - As some school districts turn to e-learning for the remainder of the year Colorado Springs' largest school district, Academy District 20, is still learning in person. They’re doing what they can to keep kids in the classroom, which is why their COVID response team is so important.

D-20′s COVID response team is made up of district officials, nurses, school staff, and other district figures. Their job is to go through every single case, positive or not, to determine what needs to be done to keep students safe.

“We use those flow charts to examine the information we have and determine what the best course of action is and we’ve developed internal checklists as well because there’s a lot of details that sometimes you don’t think of until you’re in the process," says Becky Allan, the district’s CFO and a member of the COVID response team.

One major characteristic they look for when having to quarantine students is symptoms. If a student has a cough and fever, they investigate that more in-depth before sending students home to quarantine, because it could be the common cold. On the other side of the spectrum, if a student experiences a loss of taste or smell, those in closest contact with them will immediately be quarantined. This is due to the fact that those symptoms are known as a “red box," meaning they’re specifically linked to the virus.

Each case takes the team hours to dive into as they contact trace and investigate the case. Sometimes they use video to discover if the person presumptive positive has been in contact with people outside of their cohort.

“Let’s say that we have a student who is positive and we’re looking at their classroom, well were they on the bus? That has implications. Are there implications, do we have enough students going home that we have to offer a different format for folks to have food and lunch through our lunch service? So there are a lot of pieces that go into play," says Allan.

Since the start of the school year, case counts continue to rise as mirrored through the cases in the county. During the month of October into November, the team has seen an average of about 25 active cases to look into a day. Those cases could all be at different schools and impact thousands of students.

The response team says they work around the clock, sometimes through the weekend, to get information out to the community as quickly as possible. The rapid information is crucial because the impact a quarantine can have on a family is so high.

“We want to make sure that we are truly identifying the close contacts because we know quarantines don’t just impact that student and take them out of the in-person learning environment. They impact that student’s life on weekends and nights and their entire family experience during that quarantine window," Allan says.

The job is complex and takes time as each case is looked at. The COVID response team says they work as fast as possible to ensure student and staff safety.

At the time this article was written, D-20 did not have plans to move to e-learning. If plans change, we will update accordingly.

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