School protocols for handling positive COVID-19 results could differ for each case

School districts, doctors talk about how to will handle positive COVID-19 cases in schools

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - There has been growing concern about how schools will handle potential coronavirus outbreaks as students begin face-to-face learning.

The state’s department of education has set up an email for parents and teachers to report coronavirus safety violations.

Superintendent Cade Brumley says anyone worried that a school isn’t following the rules can send an email here.

More: Nearly 150 Livingston Parish students quarantined after one week of class

”We want to make that the environment as safe as possible,” said Dr. Michael Bolton with Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Bolton discussed how the schools might respond to positive cases, whether from teachers or students. The medical center has been working closely with Catholic schools across the state.

”I know health officials and school officials have to walk a line between ensuring the safe environment of their teachers and students while also maintaining the privacy of those individuals, so I think it’s trying to be as transparent as possible in letting folks know when folks are positive and what actions you are taking in response to that,” said Dr. Bolton.

Many schools have said they’re following the Louisiana Department of Health’s (LDH) guidelines. Teachers and students’ households may be alerted if they have come into contact with a person who tested positive and if they need to quarantine.

”When it comes to what schools do for faculty or teachers who develop novel coronavirus infections, it is somewhat individualized because it depends on the setting in which that happens,” Dr. Bolton said. “It’s going to depend on how clustered the teachers are and what contact those folks had in a congregate setting.”

Dr. Bolton says close contact is defined as being within six feet of a person for at least 15 minutes. He explains each case may be handled differently since school and classroom sizes are not the same.

”Letting them know that what you did for one scenario might be a little different than what another scenario offers because they’re going to have some nuances and so as to not paint every situation with the same brush, but to be deliberate and considerate for what the situation presents and how you respond to that,” said Dr. Bolton.

Dr. Bolton goes on to say they continue working closely with schools to help ensure safe environments for students and teachers.

”The more we learn about school settings and how kids do in a school setting and how teachers do in a school setting given the precautions we’ve recommended, we can see how the virus acts in that setting. We use a lot of guidance from the CDC and from the Department of Health to define to us what is close contact and in trying to ensure that we maintain the safe environments, but also try not to close down schools or close down classrooms if it’s not necessary,” said Dr. Bolton.

West Baton Rouge and Ascension Parish school districts have posted more specific protocols for how they will notify families and what parents should do if there’s a positive case in their household on their school websites.

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