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School COVID-19 case alerts: What the alerts mean for parents

School COVID-19 case alert.jpg
Posted at 9:59 PM, Aug 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-17 02:50:00-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — COVID-19 is making it inside Pima County classrooms.

Since July 20, there have been 581 cases, and 27 outbreaks, according to the Pima County Health Department.

Letters alerting parents there was a COVID-19 positive person on campus are hitting parent’s email inboxes. Epidemiology Program Manager Heather McGovern said these are health alerts, something parents would also get if there was such an outbreak like lice at school.

“I would tell them to call the school just to confirm that it's just a notice that they're being alerted that there may be an increased health risk at their school,” said Heather McGovern, epidemiology program manager.

The alert is the first confirmation for the contact tracing process, according to McGovern.

“We work with the schools to identify the close contacts related to the positive case and it really depends on how the schools [and] the classroom operates. Is there masking in place? Are there sanitary measures in place? Is there a social distancing in place?,“ she explained.

She said contact tracers make three attempts to contact families, including a phone call.

“All those calls should be coming from a 7-2-4, Pima County Health Department number,” said McGovern.

Parents should take the necessary steps to test and quarantine their child when they get a letter with the Pima County logo on top, she explained.

“That is the, the direction to stay home, quarantine, which date you can take a test, and hopefully it’ll be negative and which date you can return based off that test, and which date you can return if you’re unable to take a test," said McGovern.

While McGovern said it depends on several factors, like grade and vaccination status, this is what it would take to close down an entire classroom.

“Generally speaking, if more than 10% of the population of any setting is positive, we will probably make recommendations to move towards closing that activity that classroom that conference here setting," she explained.

McGovern encourages people to mask up and get vaccinated, when possible, to ease some of the nerves when the alerts go out.