This district should resume contact tracing COVID-19, make masks mandatory at extracurriculars

This district should resume contact tracing COVID-19, make masks mandatory at extracurriculars

Staff Editorial

On Jan. 20, this district announced it would cut back on contact tracing. In its short statement, the district reasoned that this was to limit “multiple notifications of exposure.” Additionally, the district will continue to make masks optional at after-school activities. 

This announcement came after the district reached its highest number of cases in one week with it reporting 534 positive cases across all buildings during the week of January 15. In turn, according to Principal Tom Harmas, the district had a 17% absence rate. With this large increase in cases as well as the new Omicron variant, the HiLite staff recommends the district resumes notifying students and staff of their exposure as well as make masks mandatory at after-school activities. 

Contact tracing is necessary because of its effectiveness at stopping the spread of the virus. For example, if a student is unknowingly exposed to the virus and contracts it but is asymptomatic, they could go in public and unknowingly spread it to someone else. However, if the student were to be made aware that they were exposed, they could get tested and find out they have it, keeping everyone safe. 

We recognize that contact tracing requires much time and effort from the administration, but there are some additional measures the district could implement to alleviate that burden. One such solution would be to require a negative COVID test before returning to school. 

According to Superintendent Michael Beresford, a negative test is not required due to the low possibility of transmission after a five day quarantine. Beresford said, “It’s not required because what they’re saying is if you stay out five days, you usually feel much better and that most of the transmissions are done in the first five days.” But, while the majority of the population does feel better after five days, that doesn’t mean they’re not contagious. In turn, if the district were to require a negative test result, students would know with absolute certainty that they are not positive, meaning that they could not accidentally pass the virus on to someone else and stop the spread before it even happens. 

Another solution to help alleviate the burden of contract tracing is to make masks mandatory once again at after-school activities. If students were to wear masks more at after-school activities, there would potentially be fewer cases of COVID-19, meaning there would be fewer required contact tracing efforts. While after-school activities often come with eating and drinking, wearing masks is still possible. If masks were required, the cases could potentially decrease in addition to lessening the amount of contact tracing the district would have to do.

We commend this district for its efforts so far this year to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. However, while more and more students and teachers continue to get vaccinated, the end of the pandemic has not yet arrived. Continuing to implement small measures like contract tracing and requiring masks at after-school activities could hopefully help to limit the spread of the virus and take steps to move us past this pandemic.