Fenton Area Public Schools system of contact tracing

Fenton Area Public Schools system of contact tracing

April Carr, Writer

Fenton Area Public Schools (FAPS) has been back to face-to-face learning since Oct. 1. To help continue  face-to-face, Genesee County Health Department has created a system of contact tracing. 

“The system we use for contact tracing is the one provided to us by the Genesee County Health Department and that is within six feet for 15 minutes of time,” Principal Laura Lemke said.  “We have to talk with teachers to find out what the seating chart is, who is within six feet and even have to measure the distance between desks in some cases to make a determination.”

Most contact tracing takes place outside of regular school hours.

“We get most of our information about someone being sick or a positive test after everyone has gone home for the day because that is when people generally check voice mails at home or have time to check cell messages,” Lemke said. “That means most of the contact tracing we are doing is when students are not in session. It is not that we are trying to hide the information from students, rather we are spending hours on the phones after the normal work day, or for four hours on a recent Sunday evening.”

In the event a student tests positive for the coronavirus, the school has to go through a process to decide who needs to be quarantined and who does not.

“Once we have a report of a possible or confirmed COVID-19 case, there is a student form and/or staff form that must be filled out and forwarded to the Genesee County Health Department with any known information,” Lemke said. “The health department will then tell us their disposition, and we are then asked to make the calls to families to inform them of the need to quarantine and how long based on the health department’s decision.”

COVID-19 doesn’t just affect students, teachers must adjust to what the new regulations and teacher responsibilities.

“I like to move students and desks around, but that’s not really an option this year because we need to have documents ready to be used for contact tracing,” Biology teacher Christa Shulters said. “Teachers have to be aware of who partners with whom during group work, or any time the distance and time requirements are met by student groups.”

The contact tracing system has helped prevent a COVID-19 outbreak at Fenton High, and FAPS plans to continue using this system.