JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – Duval County Public Schools sent an email to parents of students on Friday, informing them that the Duval Department of Health has announced that it will no longer conduct contact tracing of positive COVID-19 cases. 19 in schools.
The Department of Health has been doing contact tracing in Duval County schools since students returned to class amid the pandemic in 2020. Contact tracing is being done to identify other people who were in close contact with a person who has received a positive COVID diagnosis.
DCPS said that in response to the DOH’s decision, the district will notify families of elementary school students when a positive case is present in their child’s classroom during that week.
Letters will be sent to families at the end of the school day when the first case in a class is reported. DCPS said the school would only send one letter per class per week notifying parents of possible exposure. If a second case is reported in the same class during the same week, a second letter will not be sent.
“Unlike the Department of Health, the district does not have the authority to order quarantine or isolation of potentially exposed individuals,” the district wrote in its letter to parents.
The district will also include what it calls a “decision tree” to help families make decisions about what to do based on whether or not their children have symptoms of the virus.
Some parents are split on the contact tracing change. A News4JAX commenter on Facebook wrote, “I got calls every day and loved it because I knew how many cases there were at his school. He just had one in his class. I think they should still do it.
Laurel Martinez is the mother of a college student from Duval County.
“For my household, I don’t really think contact tracing is necessary,” Martinez said. “At this point, we’ve been in this pandemic for so long, I mean, who hasn’t been exposed?”
DCPS said parent notification in the classroom only affects elementary students “because elementary students tend to experience school with more limited exposure to other children and teachers.”
DCPS said that because middle and high school students change classes throughout the day, school-based notifications are the best way to share positive case information. He will continue to inform families by updating the district’s COVID-19 dashboard online.
The district said students who show symptoms of the virus or who have tested positive for COVID should continue to avoid school grounds and school-sponsored activities until:
The student receives a negative COVID-19 diagnostic test and is asymptomatic; or
Ten days have passed since the onset of symptoms or positive test result, the student has been fever-free for 24 hours, and the student’s other symptoms are improving; or
Student receives written permission to return to school from a physician licensed under Chapter 458, an osteopathic physician licensed under Chapter 459, or an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner licensed under Chapter 464 .
DCPS notes that if an employee or student is in close contact with a COVID-19 case, they do not need to self-quarantine if they are asymptomatic, regardless of their vaccination status.
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