How Quarantining Works in 2021

New Options Presented on Sept. 22

Justin Burrous, Writer

“I have seen the data because I did it. Last year with the other variant, when I sent 10 of you home, 95-98% of you came back only having to quarantine. You weren’t getting it from each other very often, but you’re getting this from each other, let me tell you. The Delta is more contagious,” principal Tim Isaacs said in an interview on Sept. 2.

Since 2020, Covid-19 has brought upon many changes, uncertain futures, and challenges. The quarantine procedures are not any different.  For the 2021-2022 school year, the process is different from the procedures last year.  In fact, changes have been made in the protocol as late as Sept. 22.  This raises a lot of questions involving how the procedures actually work.

. As recently as Sept. 20, changes to procedures are being made Now, parents can choose between tests to stay, a “Healthy At School” check, or quarantining at home if their children are a contact case.

The Center for Disease Control recommends masking, at least three feet of distance between students while masked, cleaning, disinfecting, handwashing, contact tracing, testing, and quarantining to keep the spread of COVID-19 down.

Central Hardin, alongside many other schools in the Hardin County Schools district, follows Center of Disease Control guidelines, as well as Kentucky Board of Education guidelines when making decisions about quarantine procedures.

With the development of COVID-19 vaccines, the protocols for fully vaccinated individuals are different. The CDC says that these individuals who have received the vaccine are less at risk of catching COVID-19, they do not have to quarantine unless they are showing symptoms. Even though an individual has the vaccine, they can still catch COVID-19 and need to monitor and watch for symptoms. 

If vaccinated people receive that call to begin their 10-day quarantine process, they should let the administration know that they are vaccinated. 

“If you are vaccinated, you don’t have to quarantine under the guidance from the CDC,” Isaacs said.

Even though the vaccinated students do not have to quarantine, it is still important for those students to monitor their health and if they begin to show symptoms, they begin isolating and get tested.

It is also important to be truthful about your vaccination status. “We are legally allowed to say ‘you have to prove you are vaccinated’ to stay,” Isaacs said.

One of the most difficult processes of quarantining students is contact tracing, which Isaacs, along with other school administrators, are responsible for. Once they come up with a list of students that needs to be quarantined, the list is then given to a clerk in the office. The clerk then notifies the families of those students that have been exposed. 

Since the attendance for the 2021-2022 school year is documented on the student’s transcript, do the days missed for quarantine count? The short answer is no. 

“Our money is tied into bodies,” Isaacs said.

This means that the school receives money based on how many students are present on a typical school day. A new program called “Quarantine Receiving Services” helps counteract the loss of money due to a quarantine absence, allowing the school to receive income for the student, even though the student is not actually present in the school building.

One of the biggest things that keep the spread of COVID-19 down is sanitizing. According to the CDC, touchpoints are considered “surfaces that are frequently touched by multiple people. This includes door handles, desks, tables, phones, light switches, and faucets.” These high traffic points of contact are recommended to be cleaned routinely throughout the day.

According to Isaacs, since more knowledge about COVID-19 has been obtained, “the CDC has come back fairly strongly and said touchpoints are not what they thought they were. We are figuring things out.”

With the new Delta variant of COVID-19, the amount of quarantine and positive cases among students has gone up since the prior school year. This new variant of the virus is roughly two times as contagious as the previous variants and more difficult to trace back to the source, according to the CDC. 

This new, more contagious variant is a vital threat to the students in the crammed, indoor environments in a school. This has led to an increase in positive cases and the amount of contact-traced quarantines.

Isacc stresses that this variant is more contagious than the prior variants. He has made these connections by the number of students that he has quarantined that have tested positive. Not only has he seen these numbers increase, but he is also the one making the data charts.

“This says to me — now again I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV — but it says to me that when I’m sending three kids home from a pod and two of them get it, . . .  do the math,” Isaacs said.

The student body has some concerns about the quarantine procedures. Students’ responses to the Central Times survey in early September voiced an array of problems,  concerns, or questions involving the new quarantine procedures.

I can see how the quarantining procedures CAN be effective, but I don’t see them as effective currently,” junior Sean Cohen said. “Yes, we may be distanced, but let’s say that a kid rides a bus with an assigned seat next to a person who was quarantined for COVID, the kid who sat next to the person wasn’t quarantined and continued to go around school, talking to their classmates and ate lunch in the cafeteria. If the kid who wasn’t quarantined had COVID, they would be walking around school with it for two weeks if he/she has no symptoms, I would say there are pretty good odds that he/she gave COVID to two or more people within that time frame before the symptoms kick in. Those kids are now walking around the school doing the same things, etc., so there is really no way to contain COVID, so I find it pointless to make people sit a seat apart in the cafeteria when you have an assigned seat to someone on a bus for a year.” 

Sophomore Sophia Stover brings up another point involving the length of the quarantine process.

“Pertaining to quarantining procedures, I think the rules should be more strict seeing as we are dealing with a highly infectious disease affecting our entire world,” Stover said. “Instead of the 10-day isolation period, I think we should go back to 14 days to ensure the quarantined person is completely rid of the virus. I also think the contact-tracing aspect of quarantining should be more informative and let everyone who came in contact with the infected person(s) know their risk and have mandatory testing even if they are asymptomatic.”

Sherrard, Susan