By Kayla Anderson
School started on August 18 with only a few in-person sessions and canceled school days due to poor air quality, therefore we’re still in the early days of knowing how Covid will affect students and families. As of August 31, there have been 16 total confirmed cases of Covid that have been identified amongst staff and students within the Washoe County School District, including a positive case at Reed High School, a case at Mendive Middle School and a positive case at Spanish Springs High School.
When a person displays symptoms of Covid, they visit the school physician. If deemed appropriate, the staff member or student is then sent home. If they test positive for the virus, then they self-isolate for 10-14 days and a contact tracing investigation begins, which can cause other school exclusions.
When asked what happens when a teacher tests positive and how that affects the rest of their classroom, WCSD Spokesperson Megan Downs says that there are a lot of variances on what happens next.
“It all varies on the capacity of the teacher depending on how ill they are or if they’re teaching at the elementary or secondary level,” Downs says.
For instance, if a teacher tested positive at an elementary school then the classroom would either be moved into a full distance learning model or maybe a substitute would be assigned to continue in-person teaching. There are also dedicated distance learning teachers who could take over the class if the main instructor is too ill to teach while in self-isolation.
Regarding the additional “exclusions” that take place outside of the person who tested positive for Covid, those other people who may’ve come in contact with the infected individual are identified through the health district’s investigation. If those other people came within six feet of the sick person and had a conversation longer than 15 minutes, then they would likely be sent home as well and tested for Covid.
While the new covid-era school year is still in its early days, Downs says that it seems like students have been pretty adaptable to wearing masks and maintaining social distancing protocols (for the most part) since there have not been many additional exclusions necessary as found through the contact investigations. Downs says that WCSD staff members who tested positive for Covid before school began have fully recovered, but it’s still too early to tell how the pandemic will affect students and teachers moving forward.
On August 31, the Washoe County Regional Information Center reported that there have been 7,250 total Covid cases in the county. Out of those, there have been 139 deaths, 87 people currently hospitalized, and 6,095 recoveries. More than 110,500 Covid tests have been administered.
Here are the number of active cases as of Monday and total cases broken down by zip code in the Sparks/Spanish Springs area:
89431: 132 active/924 total
89434: 61 active/467 total
89436: 76 active/553 total
89441: 22 active/130 total
For more information on the Washoe County School District’s Reopening Plan and the Response Plan created by WCSD and the WCHD, visit www.washoeschools.net.