A school in Indiana had to quarantine students Day One after a student tested positive

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Many of us who live in counties on CA Governor Newsom’s Watch List (counties that have failed to meet threshold criteria) have no idea what is going to happen with our children’s school as far as in person instruction. Right now, a county must stay off the Watch List for 14 days before they can even consider reopening their schools. For most CA schools, the first day of instruction is still >14 days away so many of us could technically get there. But in areas such as mine, where the virus is setting new daily records, it certainly doesn’t look hopeful. And that bums a lot of us out… until we read stories like this. A junior high in Indianapolis reopened for in-classroom instruction last Thursday. Families had been assured that all the COVID precautions would be taken and that their children would be safe to return to school. But that evening, an email was sent out announcing that a student had tested positive for COVID-19 and that the students who had had any close contact and their families needed to be quarantined. It only took hours.

A junior high school in Greenfield, Indiana, received news on the first day of class that a student tested positive for the coronavirus, according to an email sent to families Thursday evening.

The student attended part of the first day of classes at Greenfield Central Junior High School. It was the first time students had been back in the school buildings since the coronavirus closed schools statewide in March.

The school district told families that its “Positive COVID-19 Test Protocol” was enacted as soon the school was alerted by the Hancock County Health Department about the positive test. The student was immediately isolated and all close contacts were determined.

Families of students considered a close contact – someone who spent more than 15 minutes within six feet of an infected person – were contacted Thursday night, the district said.

Superintendent Harold Olin declined to say how many students were identified as close contacts. He said district nurses and the administration helped identify those people.

“Because we are able to narrow this list, there is no reason to disrupt the educational process for the larger group that is served within the school,” Olin said in an email.

[From USA Today]

I am unclear, and the articles I read said it was not explained, when this student had been tested. It’s supposed to take a few days – about 48 hours – to receive the results of the swab test. That may be true, but I took a swab test over a month ago and still have not received my results via phone, email or text. When I call the Urgent Care, no one answers the phone nor has anyone responded to my email or contact form submission. My mother, however, who has had to take multiple doctor ordered swab tests due to a hospital stay, got her results in 24-48 hours. So the student likely took the test prior to the first day of school. The reopening guidelines for the Indianapolis school district talks a lot about tests, but nowhere can I find that it administers or requires the students to test prior to school. I feel like testing is the first step for any school in reopening (I realize testing has become a political and red-tape nightmare in most areas). Move registration up by a week and do it then. “Here’s your Biology book and now a quick scrub of your nostril.” (I know, you need qualified personnel to administer the swab. Let’s make Betsy DeVos pay for them!)

For me, this is terrifying. Not just that a student who tested positive was forced to put several other students and their families at risk but that the superintendent is trying to play it down. I recognize they followed proper procedure in notifying everyone but by not admitting how many students they consider affected and by insisting, “there is no reason to disrupt the educational process for the larger group,” the school board is prioritizing the school over students and staff. This is everything parents are worried about. There is every reason to disrupt the educational process because we are talking about a virus that has killed almost 160,000 Americans. And many of the 2.3M who have recovered from the virus are looking at a life of health issues, some debilitating. I do not understand how this is a gamble anyone is willing to take with our children. I’m sure there may be a way for school to have some form of blended learning that’s safe, but how can it be tested?

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Photos Julia M Cameron, Gustavo Fring and pixabay from Pexels

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38 Responses to “A school in Indiana had to quarantine students Day One after a student tested positive”

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  1. Lizzie says:

    I feel like in person schooling will be a lot like Major League Baseball. Wishful thinking and in practice it will fail.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      Yes, exactly. They will open only to have to close again after infecting many people.

      I think actual “education” is a lofty goal right now. We need to address the primal needs for survival and hold off on learning for the time being. Instead of trying to formally educate, I think communities need to come together to put those resources towards child care, food insecurity, social services.

      This won’t last forever, we just need to be alive to see the other side of it. We can have extra summer school sessions or longer school years in 2021 and 2022 if necessary.

  2. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    This is precisely the reason we’re sticking with virtual. We have a choice where I live, and my husband and I talked about this very scenario clogging the education system and taxing fragile protocols. And oddly enough, we voiced bets as to how fast shit would go down. Not very long at all…it seems.

  3. Mrs Robinson says:

    My kids school in CA announced it was opening in cohorts on 8/18 then quickly reversed the decision. In those 24 hours, I was thinking that I wasn’t going to be able to see anyone for months, because with kids at school, how could I say I was quarantined?

  4. Lisa says:

    I really didn’t expect it to go any differently.

    • indywom says:

      As a retired school administrator, I can tell you parents often send their little ones to school sick and won’t come pick them up when called.That is why I knew sending kids back for in person lesson would be a failure. The same parents who refuse to wear a mask and social distance will be the main culprits. The person who doing all the right things will now be at risk because of irresponsible parents.

      • Swack says:

        This^^^^^ Have said the same thing!

      • Mel M says:

        100% and the reason we are doing online as well. My son went to full time preschool/daycare for 2 years before kindergarten and 80% of the class had snot noses the entire time.
        We sent our child back to preschool in June after they had been out since March, hoping things had changed, they wore masks, took temps, asked if you have been exposed, but a week in and we get a call that a child tested positive. The child’s parents tested positive and while they were waiting on their own results they still sent the child to daycare, in June, with other children and teachers that can potentially bring it to their families. We pulled our child and have no intention of sending them back anytime soon.
        My friend is an OT that works with 90% special needs children and they just started going back into peoples houses and you have to sign a form the day before every visit that you have no symptoms and haven’t been exposed. My friend was at someone house for 45 min before they informed her that they had their other child locked up in their room because they had a sore throat and cough. So now my friend has to get tested and let all of her families know she’s potentially been exposed and this family was perfectly happy to let her go into other families homes with special needs at risk children and not even think twice about the ramifications. PEOPLE WILL NOT DO THE RESPONSIBLE OR RIGHT THING!!! They will do what is convenient for them and that’s all they care about.

  5. Amy Too says:

    Isn’t one of the reopening guidelines for schools that choose to open that everyone has to be socially distanced at more than six feet apart? But now there are apparently either students or faculty who spent 15+ minutes within six feet of this student? Sounds like they’re unable to actually enforce social distancing. SURPRISE! Who would’ve guessed?

    Here in my city in West Michigan, the public school district has decided to do virtual only for the first term at least, which ends October 9. Then they will reassess. And we are currently doing kind of okay with Covid. We’re not a huge hotspot or anything and our cases have been going down. But still, no in person school. Which I support. Before the district made their decision, they assured us that even if they chose in person learning, anyone who wasn’t comfortable with that could choose all virtual for their student. My son is 14 and starting high school this year. I feel like he’d be okay with wearing a mask all day, but I don’t think he would religiously keep 6 feet away from other students. I feel like virtual is the best, safest choice, but he also needs the interaction with peers. It’s a dumb situation we’ve all been put in bc the federal government decided they were just going to ignore and deny this virus rather than deal with it.

    • Christy says:

      It depends. Our school plan (Midwest) calls for daily temp checks, but for 7 yr old and 10 yr old they’re in their classroom with 20-25 other kids 3 feet apart. Only my 12 yr old will be in a smaller group with 6 feet of spacing.

      • Amy Too says:

        That seems… unsafe for the 7 and 10 year olds. Why are they being forced to be closer to each other than is recommended by the CDC but other ages aren’t? I feel like schools need to at least follow CDC guidelines. We should have federal requirements for what is allowed or not, but then again, I don’t trust this current federal government. As for temperature checks, what about the asymptomatic infections? Has there been any research that confirms that those who are asymptomatic have much less viral load in their system and are thus less likely to be able to transmit a large enough viral load to other people that could make them deathly ill? Is that just being assumed? That only people with symptoms will be able to get other people sick “enough” that they would have symptoms? I feel like that’s what people are just assuming and going with, but I’ve not seem that confirmed anywhere.

  6. EMc says:

    Hecate I got tested in early July and waited almost 2 weeks with no results. I contacted the health department who informed me that there was no backlog and that they should have had my results in 3 days max. At that point I started demanding answers and to speak to someone other than the hotline workers. I found out that 3 days after my test my results were deemed “inconclusive” and I needed retested. Somehow I “slipped through the cracks”, and nobody called me, says the Covid testing site director. I was furious! So they wanted me to be tested again, to which I questioned having to wait another 3-5 business days (don’t even get me started on the business days aspect of this process) and said it wasn’t good enough. They approved me for a rapid testing which had results in 2 hours.

    My point of this rant is, I guess, that the system is totalled effed and so are our kids. But rapid testing is available, to some degree.

  7. grabbyhands says:

    What a shock! Said no one.

    Unfortunately, it is also not a shock that the person in charge of the well being of these children and staff is willing to offer them all up as sacrifice in order to not have to admit that they were wrong about starting school while a pandemic is raging.

  8. Case says:

    This is why it’s so apparent in-school learning just isn’t going to work. One child or faculty member gets sick and half the school has to shut down, and everyone who was in the school also has to worry about whether they exposed their families as well.

    I know parents need to go to work and need a place for their kids to go, but physically going back to school can’t be the answer. It will be constantly disrupted by shutdowns and so very dangerous.

    • Amy Too says:

      And then you end up with parents who thought it was okay to go back to work, who told their employers they could come in now bc their kids are in school, suddenly needing to take 2 weeks off work who knows how many times this fall. It’s much easier to plan if you just know that your kid is going to be home for months rather than assuming they’ll be in school and then having to make emergency plans for their care when school is forced to close for two weeks.

      • Case says:

        Exactly. I find it significantly less disruptive to just have everyone plan on remote learning rather than have it so up in the air and confusing, for both the children and the parents. It’s not going to benefit kids to be back in school for a week (or in this case a day), off for two weeks, back for a week then off again, etc., all while worrying they’re going to get sick themselves. And we already ask teachers to be ready to literally take bullets for children because we can’t get our gun laws in check — now we’re asking them to die of COVID in the name of watching kids during the day? It makes me so angry.

        I really don’t know what the answer is for parents that need to physically be at work to get paid (retail, construction, emergency services, etc), but it can’t be this. Another stimulus check would be a good start.

  9. Julia says:

    We all saw it coming, but it’s still a bad news. I am terrified at the thoughts of the millions of kids worldwide who are going to miss out on a proper education because of covid-19. Very dark future ahead, especially for the already deprived nations.

    • SomeChick says:

      I’m concerned about education being disrupted too, but what truly terrifies me is that this virus can be LETHAL. Ya can’t learn much when you’re dead. Nor can teachers teach from the grave. That is also disruptive – and clearly much worse.

      A death in the family, friend group or class is also disruptive to learning and to mental health. It is setting children up for PTS. Do you think the Parkland survivors just went on as usual afterwards? How could they?

      That matters a lot more than whether kids are learning at a slower pace, and it isn’t something that standardized testing can show. Better alive and “behind” in schoolwork.

      • Sigmund says:

        Exactly. I used to teach, and I’ll admit, in the spring when schools closed, my first thought was “what about their education?” And then a friend of ours lost their teenage daughter to Covid complications this summer. She was not at risk and was previously completely healthy. It was devastating. This disease kills, and it can have lasting repercussions even on the people who recover. The safety of the students, staff, and teachers has to take priority right now over everything else.

      • julia says:

        I never said the kids should go back to school. Obviously, being safe is top priority at the moment, and in most Western countries, we are priviledged enough (even if the poorer are again going to be affected and left behing here) to be able to implement remote schooling. This should 100% be implemented over irl schooling. No question asked.

        I was referencing to the global, worldwide, and long-term repercussions. We are worried as we’ve been experiencing a rise of nationalism and a fall of liberal ideologies in the last 10 years of so (highlights being Brexit and Trump being elected). I can only assume that an entire generation of kids not being able to have access to education at all will produce a very dark future in 20 years or so, when these kids are grown-up. And it worries me. And saddens me.

        But yeah no, I’m not worried about American kids falling behing on their homework (nor do I care tbh), they very obviously should stay home, were they are safe – and are keeping their parents/grand-parents safe.

  10. IMUCU says:

    “I know, you need qualified personnel to administer the swab.”

    And this is even problem. I have had several patients and family members, in the last few days, describe how they have been swabbed at drive thru pharmacies, urgent cares, etc. and it is DONE WRONG. In fact I had a patient tell me they had been swabbed 3x, all negative, but had a positive antibody. When she told me how she was swabbed it was obvious why her swabs showed up negative. Practitioners cannot just take a swab and swirl a bit inside the nostril. The swab has to go back through the nasopharyngeal area, which is usually AT LEAST a couple to few inches in. It must go deep. It will be uncomfortable, there’s no way around that (and may even be tender if you are sick/congested when swabbed) but that is the way it has to be done to get a reliable sample. Otherwise you may as well not get swabbed.

    • EMc says:

      I think this exact thing happened to me. When I was tested, I thought wow that wasn’t so horrible after all. When I was retested, because my first results were inconclusive, it was much more unpleasant. I feel strongly that the first swab was not done properly which led to the error on results.

    • Duch says:

      What you described is how I was swabbed on Friday before traveling to MA, and it is pretty uncomfortable, mildly painful even.

      But I understand that there is a second type of swab that doesn’t go as deep, used for asymptomatic patients. My child is going to college where they will test each student twice a week – and it sounds like the type of test where they just swab the nasal cavity.

    • vertes says:

      Agreed! Testing hurts! I was swabbed in April & the masked, shielded, hazmat-gowned swabber warned me it’d be “quite uncomfortable.” I yowled & jumped & I’m no sissy. Got my results in 3 days.

  11. T says:

    This is what I’m worried about. I’m in Mass., and we haven’t yet heard a decision from our town about their back to school plan. They have to submit 3 plans – 1 for fully back to school, 1 for hybrid in school/remote learning and 1 for fully remote. Personally I want my middle school son to do full remote, but hubby and son are hoping for hybrid. We can opt for fully remote if they offer full or hybrid and we aren’t comfortable with it, but I know 2/3 of my little family unit want some kind of back to school. I feel like we’ll just end up shutting down again at some point and why risk it? I don’t really want my son to be part of the back to school experiment, because that’s how I feel it is – an experiment. We don’t know enough about this virus to know anything for sure. Except that it’s super contagious. No real answers, no one truly knows what to do. And I feel it will end up being an argument in my household either way.

  12. Noodle says:

    I had a situation when I taught high school, that demonstrates the mindset of some administrators when it comes to situations like these.

    Day four of 10th grade English class. A kid puts on brass knuckles, stands up and walks over a random kid in the class, and punches the living daylights out of him. Boys wrestle to the ground, taking my CRT monitor with them. Aggressor is on top of pummeled boy, punching him on the back of his neck, while pummeled boy’s head is cracking the screen of the monitor. Security doesn’t come. I sent a kid next door to get the neighbor teacher. Blood is flying everywhere. EVERYWHERE. After screaming at them and realizing the victim is going to be seriously injured, I intervene, picking up aggressor (he was a smaller kid) and pushing him away. I stood in the middle. My hands are covered in blood. The walls are covered in blood spray. Other kids in the front row are sprayed. Their papers and books have droplets all over them. Teacher from next door comes over to help and sends me to the bathroom to clean myself up. I come back to class and have to teach at that point because there’s no one else to do it. The period after the event is my prep so I go to the office to write my report and talk to admin. They are sending me for testing since I was exposed, which is fine. I ask about all the students who were exposed, and now have blood on their personal belongings. Administration tells me they won’t test the kids, and they are probably fine. I ask if they are going to inform parents that their child was exposed to blood. Nope. No need to scare the parents or unsettle the kids. I insisted, citing the liability of not informing parents that their kids very likely had another kid’s blood sprayed on them in class. They decided to send home a letter informing parents, but really understating what happened in the classroom. Administration wanted to cover it up because it reflects badly on the school and management, and the same attitudes towards student health and safety are being played out here in Indiana, and in so many other districts nationwide. Admin wants to come across as proactive and pro-student and pro-education, but really, it’s a smoke show. There are too many bad schools and bad districts where this is allowed to happen. Once I realized that, I had to get out of that district (also, I was kicked in my pregnant stomach by a student months later, which REALLY sealed the deal). I now train teachers and we talk honestly about what they will face in the classroom, and how to best protect themselves. Unfortunately, I just don’t see This getting better, and I expect a mass exodus of teachers, and fewer enrollments in teacher training programs, as a result. When will we learn that we can’t treat people like this and expect them to sacrifice everything?

    • Watson says:

      Holy moly. I knew American schools had a bad reputation but your first hand account is terrifying.

      • Noodle says:

        Keep in mind it was in a REALLY bad area. The community was rife with gangs and drugs, and tons of racial tension. The whole fight was a result of a drug deal gone wrong, and both boys had major gang ties. That doesn’t excuse it, but it does give context to why it happened. Unfortunately, there were a lot of good kids in that area who just wanted to go to school and not deal with gang fights on a daily basis. They are what kept me going.

    • vertes says:

      Sounds like the first event you described happened well before covid 19? your pregnancy & district departure came later.

      • Arwen says:

        Vertes does that matter? COVID or not, blood is still classifed as biological hazard. Noodle is trying to explain the terrifying point that there are schools out there that have patterns of putting their reputation over proper procedures and student safety. If they didn’t follow the rules before COVID, it’s completely reasonable to question if they are following them during COVID.

    • Noodle says:

      @arwen, precisely. I quit teaching way before COVID, but this behavior of passing the buck and putting into place policies and procedures that don’t serve the best interests of teachers and students exist in a lot of places.

  13. Faithmobile says:

    We live in the Bay Area but in a very small town with an equally small school district(3 schools). Our county is not on the watch list but it still decided all virtual until January, the original plan in May was for 3 half days only with classes split in two. It was also in a voluntary basis. Compare to Marin which is surging in Covid cases and didn’t have plan by middle of July. I feel bad for the unneeded stress this has caused families.

  14. JEM says:

    So this kid’s family sent him or her to school the first day knowing there was a pending test. That is so unbelievably irresponsible and stupid and selfish, and, and, and….

  15. Miss V says:

    Any other teachers out there terrified to go back? I don’t have any underlying health issues, but my husband does. If he contracted COVID, it would be a death sentence for him. His lungs are weak as it is… he would have no chance to fight it off. I don’t understand why the health and lives of the teachers (and our families) are not being taken more into consideration during all of this.

  16. DME says:

    Preschool teacher here and very scared to return. We just don’t know enough about Covid to return safely. My kids will not be masked or social distance because of age. I completely understand parents are returning to work but we need a NATIONAL 8 week shut down. Minimum. We need a major reset here. And I agree with poster above who mentioned it takes sometime hours for parents to answer calls for pick ups. Right before lockdown, I had one I called at 10am and when I left at 3:45, the child was still there. This was Wednesday and we closed Friday. We knew it was an issue at that point and she ignored my call.

  17. vertes says:

    Piecemeal school attendance won’t work. I live in an area where snowflakes think their darlings deserve peer social contact & face-time attention of teachers.
    We need to shut schools entirely, suck it up with online teaching for a couple of months & mask diligently until the infection rates drop very significantly. Then, distanced, part-time campus classes might be ok.
    In CA, everyone is so obsessed about keeping restaurants open & waiters employed that outdoor dining & table service is a popular. Waiters wear plastic face shields. Wrong!! Exhaled breath goes out at the bottom of the shield. Stay home. Cook. Get take-out. Do in -house, home-ec cooking with our kids.

  18. Anna says:

    Everyone who knows anything about epidemics, about viruses in general and this one specifically, and even well-reputed astrologers are saying things are going to get worse, specifically mid-September through the end of the year with a spike in mid-November. This is science not conjecture. It’s based in history and scientific fact but also in the terrible way the U.S. is dealing with (not dealing with) this pandemic. The only way to get through it is to hunker down for the next six months and follow the rules to minimize exposure. We’re all tired of it but death is the alternative. :…(

  19. Grace&Courage says:

    This is MY school district. This is where I teach and where my children go to school. I am proud of how my school corporation is handling this. We are following our state health department’s guidelines, and our school corporation has done all they can to help get students back to school. Our school corporation offered virtual learning for students or onsite classes. The schools are working to maintain contact tracing just for this purpose. I feel bad for those that are concerned because their child came in contact with a positive covid case, but at least they only had to ask a small amount of students to get tested and quarantine for 10 days…as opposed to entire schools or districts shutting down. I am so happy to be back in class, teaching and watching kids learn and grow socially and emotionally. My own children are happy to be back at school. The kids have all adapted to wearing masks and going about school and daily routines in a brand new way…but this is GOOD! I am proud of my school district and so grateful for how they are handling this.