A student at Attleboro High School in Massachusetts attended the first day of in-person school despite having tested positive for the coronavirus just days before. NBC News reports that now, around 30 people who came into contact with the student have been forced to quarantine for two weeks.
The mayor of Attleboro, Paul Heroux, says that the student was tested on September 9, got a positive test result on September 11, and then went to school for in-person classes on September 14, despite him and his parents being fully aware that he had COVID-19.
"There's no question about whether or not the parent knew," Heroux said. You would think by now, nearly seven months into a global pandemic that has absolutely transformed daily life for everyone, people would understand the seriousness of a positive COVID-19 test.
The school's principal, Bill Runey, said that while they knew they'd end up having some cases, they didn't expect it to happen on the first day of classes. The school planned to use a hybrid learning model, where set groups of students attended classes on rotating days.
That's probably why the student with the positive test only came into contact with 30 others. If school were pushing forward with no restrictions in place, you'd have no idea how many people made direct or indirect contact with the student that day.
How did the school find out about the student's positive test? "Long story short, rumors started circulating around town, so someone contacted the bureau of health here in Attleboro and did some checking and found out that it was true, that he had tested positive," Runey said.
The school used contract tracing to help figure out who had come into contact with the individual and who might now be at risk for COVID-19. Runey said that about 30 students are now quarantining for two weeks.
It's not clear if any teachers had contact with the student and were forced to quarantine as well. Presumably, the student went through the full day of school before the information made its rounds and it was confirmed that he had tested positive.
"I was pleased that our contact-tracing protocols we put in place helped us pretty quickly ID and narrow down close contacts," Runey said.
"Thirty is still a lot, but if we didn't have a greater degree of certainty with seating charts and things like that, we would have had to err on the side of caution for a lot more kids."
That is true. It seems like the school took enough precautions to not throw their entire plan out of whack when they experienced a case, which, as Runey said, they expected would happen at some point.
But for the love of your neighbor, please do not send your child to school for in-person learning if you know that they have tested positive for the coronavirus recently. It's extraordinarily irresponsible and puts so many others' lives at risk.