JC has plans for any community COVID cases

School nurse explains what happens with COVID cases at John Carroll


Belle Wilson, Editor-in-Chief

We hear about COVID-19 everywhere we go now.

As students continue to head back to school, concerns and questions have been raised about how JC will handle a positive COVID-19 case of a staff member or student.
Hybrid learning has been in session since October 5, and already in that week, one staff member tested positive for the virus.
According to an email sent out on October 13, President Steve DiBiagio said, “You will be notified if your student is considered a “close contact” of any positive COVID case. If you do not receive this notification, then your student is not affected and may attend school per usual.”
School Nurse Michelle Webster commented, “If a student develops symptoms while in school, I have an isolation room that will be utilized while the student awaits pick-up.”
In the past month, the room has been used and Mrs. Webster added, “Parents were here for pick up within 20 minutes, and tests came back negative. Prior to the students’ departure, I made a list of close contacts. In all cases, there were no close contacts at school – we have a 6-feet physical distance rule and as long as everyone abides by that rule, there should be no close contacts.”
According to the CDC, the definition of close contact is someone who is within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes over a 24-hour period.
If a suspected case has any close contacts, those students would also be asked to leave school and remain there until the original case gets a negative test, or if positive, the close contacts must quarantine for a full 14 days, whether they get a test or not.
In regard to contact tracing, Mrs. Webster “will be the one to initiate the contact tracing, I will also consult with the Health Department for any positive cases.”
The Maryland Health Department published the Exclusion and Return for Laboratory Confirmed COVID-19 Cases and Persons with COVID-19-like Illness in Schools, Child Care Programs, and Youth Camps that John Carroll follows strictly.
The resource states, “Schools should provide written notification to all identified contacts. The notification should include the following; when to seek medical care, how to monitor for symptoms, who to contact and how to contact them if they develop symptoms of COVID-19 while under quarantine, the projected length of quarantine if remaining asymptomatic, and a plan for maintaining remote learning for those who remain well enough to engage in learning while under quarantine.”
This process is different from those who develop symptoms outside of school or those who are identified as close contacts. In these situations, Mrs. Webster is “counting on the parents to notify me. I check emails that are sent to the Attendance Office to search for possible ill students, and then I contact the parent if I need more information. I am keeping a spreadsheet of all cases and close contacts.”
Along with this, an email was sent on October 16 with a link for students to fill out when traveling outside of Maryland.
The email stated, “For any reason, including approved college visits, sports tournaments, funerals, family visits, etc., you MUST complete the Travel Notification Form available at johncarroll.org/travel. If you visit a state with a COVID positivity rate of 10% or higher, you will not be permitted on campus for any reason until you supply proof of a negative (non-rapid) COVID test or complete a two-week quarantine.”
Additionally, JC has implemented SchoolDoc, an online platform used to record all information on students’ health in one place. Before students and staff step onto the campus for any reason, a prescreening form must be submitted through SchoolDoc.
Mrs. Webster also said, “JC will be sending out a weekly update with information about any COVID cases.”