School is in session and the coronavirus pandemic hangs over the schools. Schools share their procedures for dealing with students or staff who are out sick because of the virus and those who have come in contact with the individual.
St. Paul's Lutheran School Principal Larry Wooster said they have plans in place as far as notifying parents of COVID-19 cases.
"It is a little convoluted as far as the details, when the exposure occurred, did the person expose people at school, in the classroom, etcetera," he said. "It is tricky to get the necessary information out there as well as protecting the individual’s privacy. This is extra challenging for us because we are a small school. We value the ability to get advice from Three Rivers Public Health Department."
Wooster said there is compliance with wearing masks.
"We have some students wearing masks sometimes and a couple wearing masks all the time. Students riding buses must wear masks on the bus," he said. "Teachers wear masks whenever they are outside of their classroom. So far this has gone quite well. Our biggest challenge is the seemingly constant disinfecting and sanitizing."
Arlington Public Schools Supt. Dawn Lewis said she's been in contact with legal counsel to make sure they are doing things correctly.
"Right now, if we have traceable contact, we are just informing those people that need to know and we are also informing our entire staff and our board of student numbers, not specific cases," she said. "Counsel advised us that we shouldn't be releasing staff information to anyone. We have decided that our student numbers are being released internally and to the school board, our staff numbers are for our own working purposes."
Lewis said they are keeping the information internal.
"What bigger schools are doing is probably OK but our attorney said the smaller your school gets, the easier it gets to figure out who those students are and that's when you get into trouble," she said. "So the attorney said with the smaller schools and the lower numbers that we have had you run the risk of making that information identifiable. The statute said under no circumstances should we tell anyone about staff numbers or anything like that."
Lewis said she knows there are people who think the school should release everything publicly.
"We are doing a fantastic job doing the tracking and tracing and the Three Rivers Public Health Department is great to work with so I feel like we have a handle on that," she said. "But we have to make sure that we are following HIPAA and FRPA and not releasing anything that we shouldn't be releasing."
Lewis said students and staff are happy to be back.
"We are having activities again and classes. The few that are learning from home with underlying health issues have everything they need," she said. "The kids have been fantastic, they're doing everything that we ask them to do and we're really pleased with how well they're dealing with the situation."
Lewis said the students have been cooperative because they want to be at school and enjoy some kind of normalcy again. She said there are very few who won't or cannot wear a mask for one reason or another and those students have been taken out of the classrooms where the teachers have health concerns.
"We knew that would be the case," she said. "We have great kids and supportive parents and if we educate people why we are doing it they are supportive."
Lewis said the school is grateful for the positive attitude of the kids and their ability to adapt and take care of things willingly.
"We are here and we are grateful and doing everything we can to keep everyone safe," Lewis said.