COVID-19 cases increase at THHS in November, as testing practices change

HTML tutorial

In the last month, news of three confirmed cases have been shared with the school community. This brings the number of confirmed cases to four this school year; one case was confirmed in late September while the three other cases were confirmed on November 10, 16 and 19 via email.

Assistant Principal of Organization Ellen Fee said, “Although we can’t comment on the recent cases due to privacy of the individuals, I can say that the cases have been determined to not be linked, nor determined to have been spread here at our school.”

The email verifying the most recently confirmed case of the virus on November 19 stated that “students and staff who are considered close contacts of the individual who tested positive have been notified of the need to quarantine for 10 days from their last contact with the person who tested positive.”

However, some students are unclear as to what constitutes close contact. According to the NYC DOE website, the rules for classroom closures changed at the end of September: “As of Monday, September 27, the DOE no longer automatically closes an entire classroom when there is a positive student case in that class. Students who are wearing face coverings and have maintained at least 3 feet of distance in a classroom from a student who tests positive will not be considered close contacts and will not have to quarantine.”

In his email, Mr. Condon stated that fully vaccinated staff or students would not need to quarantine should they not present any COVID-19 symptoms. This also applied to students, who in the last three months, had been diagnosed with the virus and completed their quarantine.

Social Studies teacher Charlene Levi said that she believes the precautions taken after confirmed cases should be stronger, particularly for people in the same classroom. “People are being told that if they don’t have any symptoms that they should be returning to the school building. It’s like the entire notion of asymptomatic cases [isn’t] being taken into account at all,” she said. 

Additionally, she said that weekly testing was not available on Founders’ Day after the cases began to arise and that testing was no longer available to staff. “These changes aren’t being communicated to the school community,” she said. 

According to screenshots shared with The Classic, teachers from multiple other DOE schools have posted on social media about testing no longer being available to staff as of mid-November.

When asked about these abrupt changes, Ms. Fee stated that the decision to discontinue staff testing was made by the DOE and that “testing was rescheduled by the DOE for 1:30 pm [on Founders’ Day], and no students were present [in the testing room] at that time.”

Photo by Audrey Chou, Photography Editor