Scottsburg High School confirmed its first positive COVID-19 cases with the positive results from one staff member and two students on Friday, Oct. 23.
As classes began on Friday morning, the SHS administration began working on contact tracing after school officials were notified “late in the evening on Thursday” of SHS’ first positive COVID-19 case. The second positive case, a staff member, was announced at about 10:55 a.m. and the third case, another student, was announced at about 1:30 p.m. Friday.
“Scott 2 is working closely with the Scott County Health Department on contact tracing to identify any close contacts of this particular student. All close contacts will be notified,” said Superintendent Marc Slaton in a press release sent to parents and staff on Friday morning around 9 a.m.
Students in close proximity to the people who tested positive were called out of their classes and informed that they needed to quarantine for two weeks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a close contact refers to a person who was within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from up to two days before the symptoms began or a positive test until the positive person isolates.
Friday, the SHS administration located all of those students using contact tracing. Since the beginning of the year, teachers have kept seating chart records in the event a student or staff member test positive, so contact tracing could be properly performed.
According to the Indiana State Department of Health, students labeled as close contacts must quarantine for 14 days from the last day of exposure to the person testing positive for COVID-19. Quarantining means those affected stay home and avoid others in case they become sick or develop symptoms, including staying home from school, the state health department guidelines said.
Students identified as close contacts on Friday waited in the McClain Hall gymnasium until they could leave or until someone could pick them up from school. Parents, guardians, and siblings came in through the front doors and waited for their student to take them home.
The announcement of the new cases caused many students to wonder if they were going to be the next ones called out of their classes. Others worried as school officials took measurements in some classes to ensure all desks were six feet apart and as the idea of closing in-person education — like what students experienced last March — loomed in students’ minds and in their conversations.
“My heart started beating really fast, and I was really worried about getting sick since I have a chronic illness, and I don’t want to miss out on upcoming events,” junior Lily Walsh said.
With all of this new information, many people left wondering about what this means for the rest of the students and school year. While no decision was made to close the school or move to online-learning only, like other school districts in the region have done after their fall breaks, school officials said the decision whether to close or go to virtual learning temporarily due to COVID-19 rests with the Scott County Health Department and Slaton. As in-person education continues, the school continues to work to prevent the spread.
“The Scott 2 staff is following the protocols established in the Scott 2 Reopening Plan which includes cleaning and disinfecting buildings and bus transportation every day,” said Slaton in a statement about the new cases on ParentSquare.