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Contact tracing key in making sure COVID doesn't spread in Arkansas schools
Contact tracing key in making sure COVID doesn't spread in Arkansas schools
THV11
Tuesday, August 18, 2020

PULASKI COUNTY, Ark.  (THV11) — Contact tracing will be a key part of keeping COVID-19 from spreading in schools and schools districts are preparing for how it will work.

Dr. Janice Warren oversees all of the school nurses in the Pulaski County Special School District and is in close contact with the Arkansas Department of Health. 

She will help get information about positive cases to them.


"The Department of Health has said we are not actually the contact tracers," Dr. Warren said.

Contact tracing will look different in each school district. In PCSSD, keeping track of where kids sit is vital.

"We're requiring teachers in the classrooms to have a seating chart, we're requiring bus drivers to have a seating chart and those students are to remain in that assigned seat, each time they enter that classroom or that bus," Dr. Warren said.

If a student tests positive, Dr. Warren will contact the teacher for a list of students they sit within six feet of. 

Those names are then sent to the department of health, who makes the phone call to parents.

"Those persons need to be contacted so they can quarantine for 14 days," Dr. Warren said.

But it is up to the parents to notify the school if their child is positive. 

PCSSD has a hotline parents and teachers must call. If they don't, it makes contact tracing inside the school difficult.

"We must be aware if there is a positive case and that is the only way we're going to protect the masses," she said.

But the entire school will not be notified every time someone tests positive.

"We will not be telling others, 'we have a positive case in Miss so and so's room,' or on this cheerleading squad at a particular school, that information is confidential," she said.

Dr. Warren said the more honest parents are about when their child tests positive, the more likely in-person classes can continue.

"Because the sooner we know, the more likely we are to contain the spread of the virus," she said.

The number for PCSSD's hotline is 501-539-3895. Or you can also e-mail the district if you have a positive case, at covidcontact@pcssd.org.