Conditions of Close Contacts

As NAFCS Covid-19 cases rise, more students are quarantined


Carlee Smith, Reporter

 Since the beginning of the school year more than 1000 NAFCS students have been quarantined due to close contacts in school, according to WDRB. NAFCS started the year without a mask mandate, but on August 12 they required them. 

As positive cases rose throughout August, the number of students considered close contacts did as well. To be considered a “close contact” with a mask mandate in place, a person has to be within three feet of the positive person for 15 minutes or more. 

Contact tracing became a large part of administrators’ jobs the first month of school.

“[Contact tracing was a lot,] especially the first few weeks of the school year when everyone was not masked up and six feet [apart],” Athletic Director BJ McAlister said.

McAlister said right now he is just trying to focus on the task at hand and keep requiring masks. In accordance with HIPPA McAlister could not give details about the close contact protocols however, he could explain some basic rules they have to follow.

 “Currently if you’re indoors, since we went to a mask mandate, it is anything three feet or less for fifteen minutes,” McAlister said. “A lot of factors determine how many close contacts. Location is a big factor, every classroom is different. That is why we encourage desks to be far apart.” 

The number of students quarantined per positive case fluctuates depending on whether or not students are vaccinated, how close they are to the positive student, if they are masked and how long they were in contact. 

Being a close contact has had a huge effect on non-vaccinated students. Freshman Alexis Ross had to miss eight school days in early August.

“I am behind in band and the things we’re playing in band,” Ross said. “So that’s hard. I have to catch up on that.” 

Without Google Meets to join, learning from home can be very difficult.

“It was extremely stressful because I was in the first round of kids who actually had to go home,” Ross said. “The teachers also didn’t know what they were doing yet. You didn’t know what the work was until the end of the week when they posted it.” 

After being out of school for ten days it can be very hard to catch back up.

“I had bad grades and barely did any work because I didn’t know how to do it,” Ross said. “I got some friends and teachers to help me when I got back.” 

Senior Caleb Dai was also quarantined but says it was less stressful.

“[Doing work at home] you had a lot of extra time, but it was hard to focus,” Dai said. “I didn’t miss many assignments, so it was pretty easy to catch up. Maybe an assignment or two but that’s about it.” 

Dai doesn’t participate in a fall sport.

“It didn’t affect much with sports because I do swimming which hasn’t started yet,” Dai said. “However, I couldn’t see my friends as often as usual.” 

Students who are close contacts but are vaccinated can remain at school with a mask instead of quarantining. 

“Being a close contact made me appreciate having the vaccine, because I didn’t have make-up work, my activities were not affected,” sophomore Charlotte Fisher said. “I had to wear a mask to volleyball and school before they were mandated, but I could still do all my normal things I typically do.”

“I have to wear a mask during volleyball practice, in the locker room and on the bench, but in games it’s not required,” Fisher said. 

Senior Alexis Williams was a close contact and remained at school because she was vaccinated.

“For me it didn’t affect me at all because  I still got to do every [dance] practice and game,” Williams said. “I still got the same opportunities as before because I am vaccinated. The only thing that changed was wearing a mask to practice. Then the week after masks were mandated so it didn’t really matter.” 

“It made me appreciate being vaccinated because I would have had to  stay home those two weeks with no practice or dance. I would have definitely been behind without the vaccine,” Williams said.

She encourages everyone to stay safe and mask up. 

Contact tracing has also been very difficult for teachers. Not only do they have to make and measure many seating charts, but they have to accommodate quarantined students.

 “Kids who are quarantined are still expected to complete their work while it is being taught in the classroom, therefore I have to record lessons, post assignments on Google Classroom as well as daily agendas,” English teacher Sara Yates said. “I have also hosted individual Google Meets for students who need extra help.” 

The stress of students being quarantined is weighing as much on teachers as it is on students. 

“Worry about contact tracing is definitely a distraction,” Yates said. “I find myself worrying so much about masks, quarantined students, etc. that I can’t effectively teach.”

Teachers are also worrying about how missing 10 days of school will affect students academically.

“I feel students who are quarantined miss out on school and the routine. Not only do they have to worry about learning the material on their own, but they have to create a new home routine.” Yates said. “Kids need interaction with their peers and to have a teacher readily available to ask questions as they come up.”

Many students have been debating whether or not it is fair that fully vaccinated students can stay in school despite being a close contact.

“I think the rules are fair because unvaccinated students have a higher chance of contracting and spreading Covid, therefore they should stay home to keep others safe,”  Fisher said.

Williams agrees.

“I think the rules are fair game,” Williams said. “If you choose to be vaccinated then I think you can stay at school with a mask.” 

 “I don’t know if I think the rules are fair to be honest,” Ross said. 

Close contact rules changed September 2 when Governor Eric Holcomb announced students in Indiana wearing mandated masks do not have to quarantine if considered a close contact.