Greenwood updates COVID guidelines

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After almost two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, guidelines are once again changing. 

The CDC has recently shortened the isolation periods required for someone who has tested positive or come into close contact with someone who has. It is now recommended that people who test positive quarantines for five days if they are asymptomatic, or if their symptoms have stopped, and they have been without fever for 24 hours. 

“Now, if a kid is in close contact or if they end up testing positive, they have to wear a mask if they’re at school for the next 10 days. If the kid comes in close contact and they’re immunized and asymptomatic, they still have to wear a mask for 10 days if they choose to stay in school. If they are sent home or if they’re positive, they can return on Day 6, but they have to wear a mask until day 10,” Mr. Josh Harmon, school nurse, said. 

The new Omicron variant has also affected proceedings. 

“I feel like my job has probably stayed the same. It’s just a shorter time frame with the new guidelines. To me, it’s not really the guidelines that are affecting it but how contagious the new virus is that’s making it an issue,” Mr. Harmon said.  

As of Jan. 10th, 92 kids were quarantined, and that number continues to rise. GHS has utilized contact tracing to stop the spread of the virus. 

“We have a system, so when we get a report that a student has tested positive for Covid, we take that student’s name and their schedule, and what we’ll do is go through the seating charts of all the classes of the student’s and their lunch. Looking at seating charts is hard because we know spacing is different in certain rooms. What we do is we write down all the names of those that are supposed to be six feet or less that sit close to that student. We get a long list of names of students who were within six feet of the student during the day,” Mr. Todd Garrison, principal, said.

There are multiple different people who work to ensure contact tracing is used correctly.

“We send the information to Mrs. Taylor, who verifies if the students were in attendance. Then that information goes to Mr. Harmon, who verifies if they are vaccinated. Then that information goes to Mr. Bruns, who is in charge of contacting families and letting everybody know. We give you dates you have to return or dates you have to wear a mask,” Mr. Garrison said.

Dr. Terry Terhune, Greenwood superintendent, has spent his first two years as superintendent trying to maintain the spread of the virus. This involves meetings each Wednesday morning to keep up with the ever-changing guidelines. 

“They consist of all the county superintendents and the county health officer. We review the county numbers and talk about each school. This morning we were talking a lot about staffing because a lot of people are really struggling with staffing, whether it’s bus drivers or cafeteria workers. We are just talking with our district nurse and while we hope we never have to, we ensure we can go to a virtual format if needed,” Dr. Terhune said. 

On January 17th, GHS positivity rates hit 2 percent, requiring schools to go back to mask mandates. 

“People have been really good about masks. I don’t know what the difference from the fall to now is, but people have been really good. Our staff, our students, our parents have all been good this January as we ask them to go back to masks.  I think if people are patient we can get through this current implementation. I don’t know how long this is going to last. The county health department predicts this week is our peak week and it will drop off almost as quickly as it came by. I’m hoping these weeks are the last time we have to do this, and next year it will be treated more like the flu, but of course I can’t predict the future,” Dr. Terhune said. 

With many school districts returning to online school, GHS is striving to avoid that.

“Our primary goal is keeping students out of online or hybrid. Learning in person is much better for our teachers, for our students, better for everybody,” Dr. Terhune said.