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Contact tracing to be used in schools

If you’re a parent, you’ll want to know if your child comes into contact with COVID-19 when they head back to school – and there is a plan for that.

The Department of Health will execute a lengthy interview to figure out who the child or teacher came into contact with when they were contagious. The timeframe will be 48 hours before the first symptom appeared (or before the test if the person is asymptomatic) to when the interview takes place.

The goal is to identify the close contacts that should be alerted.

Kristine Hollingsworth, spokesperson for Florida Department of Health in Collier County, said that could be “potentially everyone in that classroom.”

Why “potentially”?

“There’s various levels of contact, from low risk, medium risk to high risk,” Hollingsworth explained.

Who might not be contacted?

“Potentially it could be the child who is all the way in the corner (opposite the sick child).”

What about those in middle and high schools?

“They are moving about in the hallways. However, it is important to remind yourself that a close contact is somebody who has been within six feet or less of you, for 15 minutes or more,” Hollingsworth said. “So while you’re walking through the hallway with your mask on, you are at a lower risk for contracting COVID-19.”

How will the notification go out?

“We call somebody who is a close contact three separate times on two different days, so if somebody does not answer that telephone call, they have ultimately six chances to pick up the phone. After that, we will send a letter to the house.”

The big takeaway is that if your child was right next to someone who had the virus, for more than 15 minutes without a mask on, you should be getting a call.

It’s important to note that if a child or teacher is isolated during the school day for symptoms, you won’t be notified. There must be a positive test in order for anyone to be contacted.

Reporter:Lindsey Sablan
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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