Parker's Contact Tracing Plans & COVID-19 Preparedness
As the state begins to plan for reopening public and private schools for in-person learning and sets the date for restarting mainland travel, many questions remain about local preparedness. Following reports in August about Hawaii’s failure to implement effective contact tracing, the Department of Health has reorganized their contact tracing efforts.
According to HPR, Emily Roberson, the new state epidemiologist, has increased staffing and successfully contacted all patients who tested positive statewide. However, they have only been able to talk to about 50% of all those contacted. As of September 20, the state has approximately 40 contact tracers currently covering Hawaii Island with 20 others in reserve.
Additionally, our school has created a system of support if statewide efforts prove less effective: the Safety Committee. The committee meets every morning from 8:00-8:30 to go over recent statistics and make decisions regarding COVID-19. According to Mr. Delgado, head of the school’s Safety Committee, Parker has had one employee go through a contact tracing training program, and the school has plans to use a software that will enable the Safety Committee to identify who is put at highest risk if someone tests positive.
“[This software] allows us to cover more ground with less resources, which is perfect for us because as a smaller school, we don’t have the resources to have dedicated people,” says Mr. Delgado.
If anyone in the school does test positive for COVID-19, administration plans to follow a flow chart developed by the CDC and DOH that gives the school appropriate steps to follow if someone in the Parker community tests positive. However, they do plan to notify the school community while maintaining confidentiality for anyone who has tested positive. The Safety Committee may also contact students or faculty individually if they have been flagged as being in close contact with someone who has tested positive to give them further instructions on what appropriate steps may be necessary.