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How the Anchorage School District says it will handle COVID-19 in the classroom

Anchorage  School District says it's prepared to handle COVID-19 in the classroom
Anchorage School District says it's prepared to handle COVID-19 in the classroom(none)
Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 5:51 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - As some Anchorage students get ready to return to school next Tuesday, many parents still have questions about what will happen if COVID-19 is discovered in their child’s classroom.

The Anchorage School District website has listed answers to some of the most common questions including whether parents will be told if there is a positive case at their child’s school.

“Everyone will be notified if any person, a student or a teacher, is positive in their school, as long as they were in the school during their infectious period,” said ASD Health Services Director Jen Patronas.

Patronas said information about a positive test result would be passed from the Anchorage Health Department on to the appropriate school. She also urged parents to let their school nurse know if their child tests positive.

“We prefer families to let their school nurse know as soon as they have a positive test result so we can get the ball rolling as soon as possible,” she said.

Once a positive case is discovered, the school will determine who is considered a close contact.

“We are going to figure out who all those individuals are, call their families and send a letter home via email that explains what they need to do.”

Patronas said in most cases children in an elementary school class would be considered close contacts, but not always.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone is considered a close contact if one child tests positive in a class because we are going to be looking at multiple things,” she said. “How long was that child in class before they got pulled out? Who were they around? Maybe the child who tested positive was absent that day. So, there’s a lot of things that the nurse is going to be looking at to determine who is a close contact.”

Patronas said students or staff identified as close contacts will need to quarantine at home for 10 days, or, if they receive a negative COVID-19 test, may be able to return at eight days.

The district also has some new equipment for students or staff showing symptoms at school. Some schools will receive a new rapid testing machine, which is highly accurate and produces results in 10 minutes. Patronas said no testing would be done without written permission from a parent.

Asked about what she hears most often from parents who are worried about COVID-19, Patronas said many are hesitant to get their child tested for fear it will be painful. Patronas said the newer tests don’t require a swab that goes far up the nose.

“We haven’t had any children we’ve tested cry,” said Patronas. She described the swabbing as much lower down, “about the same distance that children would go in to pick their nose”.

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