Contact tracing in schools: Health Department outlines how it works

Depending on the school, once a district is notified of a positive case, an email goes out to students, staff, and parents. As that's happening, the county health department continues its contact tracing. Oneida County Director of Public Health Phyllis Ellis outlined how the process works.

Posted: Sep 21, 2020 6:17 PM
Updated: Sep 21, 2020 6:22 PM

UTICA, N.Y. --- The county health department has been very busy over the last couple of weeks. Schools are beginning their second week of school and some across our area have already reported positive cases of COVID-19.

Depending on the school, once a district is notified of a positive case, an email goes out to students, staff, and parents. As that's happening, the county health department continues its contact tracing. Oneida County Director of Public Health Phyllis Ellis outlined how the process works.

"We will do a whole investigation for contacts as well with the school and go through a system of where the contact has been," said Ellis.

If the case is a student, the health department would obtain a student's schedule and seating charts to determine who they were in contact with. The tracers would then take that information and determine who would need to quarantine.

"After discussing with the school, we will determine who was in close contact, because its not everyone. We will determine who out of the group or cohort of the student are contacts. Based on that we would do that like you were a case," said Ellis.

While the district would be in charge of notifying the general population, the health department would notify specific people or families their friend or family member may have been in contact with the virus. The Holland Patent School District has yet to receive that phone call.

Superintendent Jason Evangelist said the district is prepared if that time comes.

"At that point, they will inform us of their contact tracing plans. We will provide them with the information they need whether its seating charts or attendance for the day. I feel confident with our staff and the support that we have. We welcomed back our students last Monday. We had a great start and look forward to that continuing," said Evangelist.

For more information, consult your specific school COVID reopening plan.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 500677

Reported Deaths: 33435
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