CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Students in the Carolinas are days away from the start of the school year and top of mind for those physically going back into the building is what will happen if a student or teacher tests positive for coronavirus.
Atrium Health has certainly learned a lot on how to manage exposures to coronavirus in the hospital setting. They are sharing that knowledge and best practices with local school districts.
Ruth Krystopolski, the Senior Vice President of Population Health for Atrium, said it all comes down to having a plan in place, so no time is wasted in controlling the spread.
Atrium is partnering with Charlotte Country Day School to tackle this school year, but offering the same insights to all schools in the area.
It’s not if but when. Despite schools’ best efforts to prevent it, there will be cases of coronavirus. “The data does suggest regionally and nationally that the number of exposures increases, and the mobility of people increase,” said Krystopolski.
Thursday, Atrium Health is holding the first of many town hall meetings for educators. Krystopolski said school districts need a plan and resources to implement it.
“You need the capacity to be able to test and test quickly. You need to have the ability to not only identify the student or teacher that's positive but do the contact tracing. Then you need a way to follow those individuals through an appropriate quarantine period,” she said.
Schools have to focus on the details, but no surprise, masks, social distancing and symptom checking will be the tried and true ways to keep everyone as safe as possible.
“Assigned seating as an example, so if there is an exposure you have a seating chart so you know who was near a student that might be positive. Looking at how children pass in the hallways, staggered start times, cohorting,” she said.
They’ll also be helping schools with mental health resources students and teachers may need to cope with this upcoming school year. Atrium has developed a resource guide and website on school safety that should be available early next week.
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