Up to 200 Park City students are quarantined to prevent the spread of COVID-19, a strategy the district said appears to be working
Up to 200 Park City students are under a preventive two-week quarantine after being determined to have been in close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19, Superintendent Jill Gildea confirmed Monday.
At the high school, one sports team is under quarantine, Gildea said, as well as one classroom.
None of the students under quarantine have tested positive for the disease, Gildea said, adding that the district’s “isolate/mitigate” strategy appeared to be on the right track.
“It does seem that the protocols are being put to the test and that they are working insofar as is possible,” she said.
Students under quarantine must remain home for 14 days and participate in online learning, according to state guidelines. Family members would not have to quarantine unless the student tests positive for the virus.
As of Tuesday morning, the number of active cases in the district increased to 14, up from nine the day before. Nine of the cases were at the high school, three were at Treasure Mountain Junior High and two were at Ecker Hill Middle School.
The discrepancy between the number of students held out of in-person schooling and the number of active cases is due to the number of people students come into close contact with in a school setting.
A contact is defined as a person who has, for more than 15 minutes, been within 6 feet of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. In secondary schools, that has averaged between 12 and 22 contacts per case, Gildea said.
In elementary schools, the number of contacts has averaged between two and six. According to information supplied by the district, there were zero active cases at the district’s four elementary schools as of Tuesday.
Gildea said the lack of diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in students who are under quarantine has been welcome news.
“So, in what is basically two to two-and-a-half ‘incubation cycles,’ spread seems to be happening via family such as siblings being positive, and linked to activities such as sports,” Gildea wrote in an email to The Park Record.
She cautioned against undue focus on the number of students under quarantine.
“It is the active cases and an uptick that we need to be focused on and reinforce — mask wearing is a key, distancing is important, we should not spend extended time in close proximity outside of school without masks, continue frequent hand-washing, etc.” she said.
She also stressed the importance of students staying home if sick.
The district has been reporting the number of active cases in its schools and on Monday, the state started reporting that data, as well. The numbers lag one or two days behind, Gildea said, and on Tuesday, the state’s data showed fewer than five active cases in the district.
The North and South Summit school districts are not included in the state data, and the website notes that if there are fewer than five active cases in a district, that data is suppressed to protect privacy.
The Utah State Department of Health published guidelines for school districts to respond to the virus, and while some districts have decided to remain open in cases where the guidelines call for school closure, Gildea said PCSD has decided to follow the state’s guidelines.
Those include the thresholds for quarantining a school, sports team or classroom, which Gildea highlighted in a letter to parents Friday.
“If a school in the district reaches a total of 15 positive COVID-19 test results, that entire school will quarantine and shift to online learning for a period of two weeks,” the letter states.
Classrooms, sports teams or extracurricular activities will be quarantined when three members test positive for COVID-19.
Gildea declined to specify which PCHS sports team is quarantined, citing concerns over student privacy.
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Park City School District is partnering with the Utah Department of Health to provide free rapid testing for COVID-19 to the entire Park City community.