Covid tracing in Huntley High School

Covid+tracing+in+Huntley+High+School

Zoe Emerson

“I want to inform you that our school has received a report of a positive case of COVID-19 within our school community.”

This phrase has become all too familiar to the District 158 population. With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging on, it is no secret that Huntley High School has had its fair share of positive cases. 

“At the end of April and the beginning of May, the numbers were horrible and we were very concerned that the virus was spiraling out of control,” Nurse Donna Kunz said. “Fortunately, the quarantine and isolation numbers have decreased in the past few weeks.”

As an outbreak of COVID-19 ran rampant throughout the school, hundreds of students were quarantined or isolated. This is due to the contact tracing process, which the school has implemented to help mitigate the spread of the virus. Sophomore Nicole Okeke reported that she was afraid of contracting the virus or having to be quarantined due to the high number of cases. 

“Slowly, fewer and fewer people were showing up. One by one, students were getting quarantined to the point a class of 18 or maybe 20 students turned into just me and one other,” Okeke said. “I was scared that I would either catch COVID—19 or get quarantined as well.”

Fortunately, the number of cases has decreased significantly, and a large portion of the quarantined and isolated students have since returned to the building. While the decline in cases is a shimmer of hope for Huntley High School, we’re not out of the woods quite yet. Staff members often have to remind students to wear their masks above their noses and maintain a 6-foot distance from their peers. 

According to Kunz, the majority of students put in the effort by wearing their masks appropriately and social distancing in school. However, there are significant issues outside of school that need to be addressed. 

“Outside of school, in the community, is where many of the problems exist. Students carpool, hang out with friends, have sleepovers or parties, go out to eat; most often without masks or distancing. With these behaviors, COVID continues to be transmitted,” Kunz said. “We cannot promise a COVID-free school, but we are working diligently to provide a transmission-free school.  The administration and staff cannot do it alone. We all must take responsibility to protect each other.”

Okeke stated that the school administration has done a good job at keeping everyone safe by spacing students out in classrooms and enforcing quarantines, even though students might not be favorable towards it. 

“In some classes, I feel entirely safe because everyone is spread apart with their masks on,” Okeke said. “In other classes, I feel less safe because there are so many students in one area.”

While COVID-19 has been wreaking havoc in the world for over a year, there is hope. With vaccines starting to become available to younger members of the general public, it is more important than ever to continue to follow the mandates. Kunz strongly encourages students to get vaccinated. Fully vaccinated students no longer have to quarantine after being designated as a close contact to someone who has tested positive for the virus. 

“There are many ways to limit the spread of COVID-19. wearing a mask appropriately; covering your nose and mouth without exception.  Social distancing; remain 6 feet away from others, avoid crowded places, especially indoors.  Hand hygiene, sneezing, and cough etiquette are also very important,” Kunz said. 

Luckily, there were and are currently no plans to cease operations of in-person learning due to the positive cases. Kunz notes that there will likely not be any solid guidance for next year’s learning model until the start of the next school year draws closer. All in all, COVID-19 changed the way that Huntley High School operates, but it is important to note that this change is temporary. It is up to students and faculty to follow guidelines and get vaccinated in order to return to some semblance of normalcy for the 2021-22 school year.