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COVID Cases at 5 Sunnyside Schools

Case Study: District plans to post all actives cases for transparency.
Posted at 4:20 PM, Nov 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-02 20:17:13-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — The risk of COVID spreading increases when students return to campus.

Two weeks into hybrid learning and 5 COVID cases impact 5 different Sunnyside schools. One student per campus.

Superintendent Steve Holmes explains the 5 students didn’t catch the virus at school. “In all 5 cases specifically, these were cases that were reported by the family members.”

He says parents reported to the schools that a parent tested positive then followed up days later to report their child has COVID.

And four of the five cases involved a set of siblings in two separate homes.

“In other words,” Holmes said, “when we had a call from one of our high schools, they had a sibling in one of the middle schools.”

What happened next?

Holmes says the district immediately began contact tracing to find out whether the students had been within 6 feet of any classmate or staff for more than 15 minutes over a 24 hour period.

“Our protocol is very clear, if you fall within those close contact guidelines, you must go self-isolate. For 14-days,” he said.

Students can continue remotely as well as teachers, if they can.Holmes says the district is still tightening its pandemic protocols, but the sibling connection caught the district off guard.“

And that was one we thought was an easy fix for us. Let’s run our own sibling report and not wait for the parent to let us know and then make sure those students are isolated as well even though they may not be symptomatic or have tested positive,” said Holmes.

The district also created this Positive Case flowchart so staff and parents know exactly what’s protocol.

The directions include:
— All steps must be completed by the end of the day.
— Identify close contacts while Pima County Health Department is notified.

“They make phone calls to that individual and family members to make determinations where they have to get back to us and makes some changes to our protocol or make some advisement," he said.

Or the PCHD could recommend a school or classroom be shutdown.

Pima County Health Department recently reported it hasn’t advised any of the districts to close an entire school, though there has been cases when certain classrooms have been showdown.

Holmes said he has yet to be advised of any protocol changes. “And the good thing it hasn’t resulted in what they would consider an outbreak to shut down a classroom or whole school.”

The Positive Cases flowchart it shows Sunnyside staff must report cases to Administrators, who then notify staff, close contacts, and all parents.

The district then sends a letter o parents of the schools where COVID is a concern.

Holmes said the district is striving to be as transparent as possible.

“We’re going to actually also post an active case per school chart just so the community and parents know how many active cases were have going at each school,” he said.

Sunnyside parents are urged to report any safety concerns to school leadership or they can go to the district’s ASK ME webpage.

The superintendent says there have been no *other cases of COVID reported at the school.

He urges Sunnyside parents to report any safety concerns to school leadership or they can go to the district’s ASK ME webpage.