October 28, 2021 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

More than 35 students quarantining at SJO

More than 35 students at St. Joseph-Ogden High School are quarantining after close contact to a person with COVID-19.


Currently, 36 students are quarantined and one student is positive for COVID-19. Zero staff are quarantined or positive.


“These are total numbers and not just released to one situation,” Principal Gary Page said.


Page said the district expected situations like this when they brought all students back to school full time in March.


Page said the quarantines are required if a student is within six feet of anyone that tests positive for COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes over a 48 hour period.


“We are required by C-UPHD to quarantine that student from school,” he said. “In contact tracing we are asked to go back 48 hours from a positive test or the onset of symptoms.  So If student A starts developing symptoms on a Wednesday, we have to contact trace back to Monday.”


Page said in most classrooms, students are spaced between three and four feet apart. However, in a few classrooms they are still six feet apart.  


The current round of quarantines has required the JV volleyball team to cancel competitions. Page said there are other students that will miss extracurriculars as well.


“This is something we have learned to deal with because it is inevitable,” he said. “This time is more unique because students are having to quarantine because of being in a classroom.  This was very rare when we were on the hybrid schedule, but now we are back full it is the risk we take.”


Page said that even though the risk of students having to quarantine is higher due to being in closer contact, students are still getting more in person learning even if they do have to quarantine than they would on a hybrid schedule.


“If a student is able to attend in person for two school weeks they are able to accumulate 10 school days of in person learning during that time,” he said, “In a hybrid schedule it would take a student four weeks to have 10 in person days.”


Page said he understands the frustration parents have regarding students having to quarantine if they are wearing a mask and exposed to a COVID-19 positive person, the school shares the frustration.


“The CDC has stated that the risk of someone contracting COVID-19 while wearing a mask and being socially distanced at 3 feet is very unlikely,” Page said. “Which is why, we felt the time was right to survey our community and ultimately work together to get all back in.  However, the guidlines for what is considered a close contact and quarantining is still 6 feet mask or no mask.  As long as our state and local health department uses the 6 feet as the benchmark, that is the standard we must follow in the school.  It is important to remember that while it is frustrating to be quarantined even though you are masked up and socially distanced at 3-4 feet, wearing the mask is signficantly lowering the chance of actually contracting COVID.”


Page said the district feels going back to having students in the building daily was the right choice because student grades have signficantly increased and the d/f list has signficantly decreased. 


“We will see peaks and valleys with quarantines no matter what we do schedule wise and it is important not to panic or point fingers at individuals when we see a peak,” Page said. “We are all in this together, and it is important that we all continue to do our part to keep our community safe and while continuing to provide our young people with the quality of education they deserve and we expect as a community.”

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