Today I received an email from the Park City School District asking whether quarantines should be shortened. Currently, if your kid (or a teacher) is in close proximity to a person who has tested positive for Covid-19, then they can’t return to school for 14 days. According to the school district, there are about 200 students at PCHS who are in quarantine.
According to the email from the district, “The Summit County Health Department (SCHD) has stated, at this time, it is appropriate for school districts in Summit County to consider moving to a shortened quarantine if COVID-19 cases are not prevalent or increasing in the district.” So, likely due to pressure from parents, the district is asking whether the public wants the quarantine shortened.
To me, this question seems political in nature. If Rich Bullough at the Sumit County Health Department says its Ok, then do it. If not, then don’t. Trust the science. Put it on the Summit County Health Department to stake their reputation on it. Don’t send a survey.
But, since the school district seems to want to go down the Survey Monkey route, I’ll go there. Let’s think about whether we should allow students to return to school, after seven days, if they take a Covid-19 test, and it is negative.
I get it. Imagine your kid’s been in contact with someone who tested positive for the CoronaVirus, your child shows no symptoms, and she has to stay home. It has to be frustrating.
The district is proposing that if after 7 days, your quarantined-kid tests negative for the virus, then they can come back to school. At face value, it makes sense to me. They tested negative, so why not let them back in. Trust me, I would be preaching from that hymnal if/when my kid comes down with this. However, there are three problems, no matter how much I want to want this.
- The CDC still says that it can take up to 14 days for the virus to be detectable. I tried to find research that says if someone was infected, you were in close proximity to them, and then you tested negative after 7 days, everything was fine. I couldn’t. If you, the intrepid Park Rag reader, can point me to a study saying 7 days is cool, then that may make me think this is an OK idea.
- Summit County still requires a quarantine of 14 days across the board. I have not seen a rule change on this. Therefore, if you work in a restaurant, and are in the same predicament, why should a kid be able to go to school and you can’t go to work. It doesn’t make sense. It needs to be aligned. It needs to be concrete. If a student can go back after seven days, everyone can go back after seven days (with the appropriate test).
- I, as a middle-class Parkite, whose wife works in the medical industry, will be able to get this “7-day” test through insurance or we’ll be able to afford it. Can everyone? If someone is not as fortunate as me, is the health department (or school district) guaranteeing a free test for re-admittance to school? If not, is it fair that kids with more money can go back to school and the less fortunate can’t? No, it is not. It has to be equitable.
Fourteen days is a long time off of school. That not only hurts the student but also his or her family that may have to take off work to take care of them. So, an approach that shortens that time makes sense. However, that approach needs to be universal to everyone in our community (not just students). It needs to be backed by scientific research saying that a test after seven days guarantees the student doesn’t have the virus. It also needs to be available for free to all students and all individuals who work in our community.
Perhaps, all of those things are in place and the research backs this up. Great. Let’s go for it.
If not, this idea is a non-starter.
If you want to participate, here is a link to the survey. If you received the survey via email, keep in mind that the link they sent you has an email tracker in it. So, while I’m not certain of it, it is likely someone at the district would know how you voted. So, be careful out there. The link above has that removed and therefore, the vote won’t be associated with your email address.