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Lee Schools will work with Lee County DOH to do contact tracing

Posted at 7:40 PM, Jul 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-28 19:40:23-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — With the start of the 20-21 school year just weeks away, schools across the country are working to keep students and staff safe.

A question many parents have been asking is how schools will handle if and when students or teachers test positive for COVID-19.

The School District of Lee County says it's working closely with local health experts to figure that out.

"We are obviously educators; we are not the healthcare and medical experts," said Superintendent Dr. Greg Adkins.

During a workshop, Monday, health experts from the Florida Department of Health in Lee County explained how contact tracing would be done if a student is exposed to the virus.

Once a student shows symptoms for COVID-19 or tests positive, The Department of Health in Lee County will contact people the student came in contact with.

"We may not have been able to prevent the very first instance of exposure, but once we identify all of those contacts, we can isolate them and reduce the spread further," said the DOH in Lee County.

Generally, people are considered exposed if they were less than 6-feet away from someone positive for more than 15 minutes.

Cases are considered infectious to others for 48 hours before symptoms start and at least ten days after.

The DOH says people who are exposed should quarantine for 14 days — but would an entire class have to isolate if a student or teacher tests positive?

The DOH says not necessarily, but it is a possibility.

"We do take into account all exposures, not necessarily just where they were sitting in the classroom."

If there's ever any question or concern, and definite exposure cannot be determined, the DOH says they will air on the side of caution and quarantine anyway.

The school district says it is working on how it'll determine if a school or the entire district would have to quarantine.

"We're working on some metrics right now, we don't have those numbers available at this point, but we are looking at all factors."

Superintendent Dr. Greg Adkins says it's impossible to go through every scenario before the start of the school year.

"It will be rocky, I can guarantee that, but I do think we'll be able to get through this and do it successfully," said Dr. Adkin.

Parent and reopening task force member, Jewelene Harris, says that's what led to her family's decision.

"I do agree with the school district about the infinite amount of scenarios that can come up," said Harris. "Even the scenarios I thought up in my own mind, I just felt that it was best for me to choose the Lee Home Connect option."

Parents have until Thursday, July 30, to decide what option is best for their child.

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