MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota’s health commissioner said Thursday we know we’ll have COVID-19 cases in schools. Part of their plan is to offer guidance on what do. So, what happens when someone gets sick? Good Question.

In the 21-page plan, three of those pages address this particular question. If there’s a confirmed case — whether a teacher or staff or student — first you identify close contacts of that person while they were infectious. The school would work with local health officials and MDH to do that.

A close contact is defined as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes, 48 hours before the onset of the illness. So, there’s a good chance that’s people in the class. Those contacts are then told they need to quarantine at home.

They’re encouraged to get tested. Here’s the recommendation on that testing. The close contact should wait until they show symptoms or five to seven days after they were exposed to the person with COVID-19. You want to guard against a false negative.

And, even if they do test negative, the contact need to stay quarantined for 14 days. Some people get sick at the end of the incubation period.

If there are more 50 contacts, then the school would work with health officials to test everyone who felt the need a test, not just close contacts.

In the school’s response to a case or cases, the schools would have to consider: How many cases? Are they traceable to the community or the school? Is everyone forthcoming about their contacts? Do you have enough staff?

All of those answers will help decide whether the school needs to transition to another model, like distance learning, or if they can do a better job of keeping the cases contained.

Private schools are not required to follow this this guidance, but the governor did say he believes those schools will.

The Minnesota Department of Health says contacts of the close contacts, which could be parents or siblings, don’t need to quarantine. That changes if the close contact gets sick or tests positive, then all the household members should stay home as well.

Heather Brown

Comments