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Parents unhappy with quarantine protocols at SWFL schools

Parents in Southwest Florida say kids are missing school time, falling behind and riding the quarantine roller coaster. They’re upset with how the schools are handling exposure to the coronavirus. Some kids are spreading illness within their families after they say they learned about it too late. A mom we spoke to says her whole family is feeling symptoms.

School has brought Courtney Turner’s twin girls to life.

“They are starting to talk,” Turner said. “They are starting to show their personalities and become their own … person. And if it wasn’t for face-to-face learning, none of that would have been possible.”

Autism couldn’t hold back their love for learning.

“So it was … very important for them to be able to go back to school,” Turner said.

But a positive case of COVID-19 might keep her kids from school.

“I received a phone call from my child’s assistant principal saying that I had to come and get one of my daughters from school,” Turner said.

And Her twin shares plates, cups and blankets with her now quarantined sister.

“I was immediately told that my other daughter could continue to stay in school that day and remain in school,” Turner said.

So that’s where she stayed. Otherwise, mom worried she’d rack up unexcused absences, even though the policy didn’t make sense to her.

“So my children were around my parents, and, now, they may potentially have been exposed,” Turner said.

Another mom in Southwest Florida is not taking any chances and is keeping her children enrolled in Lee Home Connect. She told us she is worried because her kids still have to go to school in person for picture day.

Krystyna Rivera’s daughter has asthma, and she wants to protect her from the heightened risk of contracting COVID-19, which can cause added respiratory symptoms.

“I’d feel very like defeated and more or less let down, like I let her down, because I pretty much said, ‘OK. Everything is going to be OK. You’re going to be totally safe. It’s a safe area for you. You’re going to go to school, do your six hours or whatever and then come home, and everything’s gonna be all peachy keen,'” Rivera said. “And it’s not.”

You can add you thoughts tooo about your child’s experience going to school during the pandemic on the WINK News Facebook page.

If a student is ordered into a quarantine and tests negative for COVID-19, the health department says he or she still can’t return to school because a test is a snapshot in time and the virus could still show up later on.

Turner hopes they’ll get past this like they get through everything else.

“I’m trying to just stay positive and remain hopeful that everything is OK, and everything will be OK,’ Turner said.

Lee County Florida Department of Health school quarantine standards

1. Individuals cannot test out of quarantine. The incubation period for COVID is 14 days from date of exposure, therefore the individual that has been exposed to a COVID positive case must remain quarantined for 14 days. A test will only determine that they are negative at that moment in time. They could still become infected at any time within that 14 day incubation period.

2. While we are unable to comment regarding specific cases, we have seen low secondary transmission rates in schools across the state; viral transmission seems to occur almost entirely outside school campuses. Data obtained through contact tracing has largely affirmed that children are not frequent spreaders of the virus and most pediatric transmission occurs outside of schools.

3. When an individual tests positive, the positive case is interviewed by a contact investigator. We work hand-in-hand with the school district to obtain seating charts for buses, classrooms, cafeteria and any other extracurricular activities the case participates in. This information is then used to determine who is a close contact to the case (less than 6 feet for more than 15 minutes) and needs to be quarantined.

4. A variety of methods are employed to identify students that need to quarantine. In addition to interviewing the positive case about their interactions with others, we obtain seating charts for buses, classrooms, cafeteria and any other extracurricular activities the case participated in while infectious.

5. If an individual tests positive, anyone they are in close, prolonged contact with (less than 6 feet for more than 15 minutes) during their infectious period will need to quarantine. The infectious period is determined by symptomology onset in symptomatic cases. For symptomatic individuals, their infectious period would be the 48 hours prior to the onset of their symptoms. For an asymptomatic individual, their infectious period would be 48 hours prior to the date of their positive test. So in the scenario you reference if the student that tested positive was determined to be infectious when they were near another student, for 15 minutes or more, yes, that student would need to quarantine.

MORE: School Report for Florida FAQ – Lee-DOH 

Reporter:Anika Henanger
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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