In the event of a positive COVID-19 case, it is imperative that proper contact tracing occurs. THE FIRST STEP IN CONTACT TRACING is to notify the county level health department that you have a positive case in the building. COVID-19 is transmitted at a significantly higher rate than most communicable diseases and these measures must be taken to limit its spread. For elementary schools, if there is no movement of students, it is advised that the entire class be quarantined in the event of one student testing positive. For after care programs, sports, clubs, and any environment with changing classes, contact tracing is critical so that an exorbitant amount of students are not forced into isolation.
A close contact is currently defined by the CDC as somebody who:
- Lives with the case.
- Was within 6 feet of the contact for at least 15 minutes.
- Had direct physical contact with the case.
- Had direct physical contact with a case’s secretions, like used tissues.
All close contacts must be ascertained and contacted as quickly as possible and told to quarantine and self-monitor for signs and symptoms for fourteen days.
To provide quick and reliable contact tracing, each environment will have mandatory and enforced seating charts or stations.
If a sign or symptom of COVID-19 manifests in a close contact, he or she should receive a COVID-19 test.
When communicating with a close contact, the contact tracer may not disclose the identity of the positive case.
For each close contact, a contact tracer should follow these steps to maximize the effect of their calls.
Introduce yourself and provide the following information
- That you are working with their school.
- Make sure that they are aware that they are at risk of becoming sick themselves.
- Explain that the call will probably last between ten and twenty minutes.
Walk them through the symptoms of COVID-19 and have them make sure they aren’t experiencing any. Symptoms to ask about include:
- Fever (or temperature over 100 degrees if a thermometer is handy.
- Muscle pain and aching.
- Loss of taste or smell.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Sore throat.
If the contact is experiencing any of the following symptoms, they should immediately seek emergency care:
- Bluish lips or face.
- Faster breathing.
- Trouble drawing breath.
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest.
- New confusion.
- Difficulty waking up.
If any of these symptoms are present, the contact should immediately seek a COVID-19 test
If no symptoms are present, the contact must still quarantine and self-monitor for 14 days. Make sure the contact understands the rules of quarantine completely. These include:
- Staying alone as often as possible, even apart from family members.
- If a case must be around people, even family, they must wear a mask.
Make sure the contact can identify any problems that might arise in quarantine and provide potential solutions to those problems.
Once they understand how to properly quarantine, ask if they have any questions. They probably will.
Remind them to seek a COVID-19 test and isolate if they experience any symptoms.
Check-in with cases and contacts regularly to keep tabs on their condition.