Magazine News Volume 70, Issue 9

Off-Campus Exposure Event and its Prevention

By Sienna Lapointe, Andrew Martinez Cabrera, and Andrew Francois

According to the CDC website as of May 3, 246,780, 203 vaccines have been administered in the United States. As more vaccines roll out, fully vaccinated people can be more flexible with the original COVID-19 standards of constantly wearing your mask outdoors and staying 6 feet apart. Now people can gather indoors without a mask and can be 3 feet away from a person, and on April 27th, the CDC announced that if you are fully vaccinated and outdoors in a small group, you no longer need to wear a mask.  

However, recently,  an outside gathering off-campus led to multiple students testing positive for COVID-19, confirmed in an original email sent out by Tiffany Benson on April 26th, providing periodic updates following. 

“We received confirmation of a first positive case during the 3rd week of April,” said Kathi Mooney, the school nurse and Project Lead the Way (PLTW) and Human Body Systems (HBS) instructor at Las Lomas. Mooney detailed the rigorous protocols each staff member had to take to figure out how many students tested positive for COVID-19. “Contact tracing protocol headed by Ms. Susan Simms… LLHS has Mrs. Freitag who is helping me with the contact tracing [an essential public health tool for controlling infectious disease outbreaks, as in COVID-19]. Each case is treated as an individual case, so as you can imagine, following up on each positive case as well as each ‘exposure’ to a positive case is very time consuming. Students and parents are sent a survey which has questions specific to when and where the student may have contracted the disease or have been exposed to the disease. When we receive this data, we follow up with a phone call and make decisions to quarantine or not based upon each individual case.” 

Afterward,  Mooney and team would contact sports teams that were possibly exposed (within 6 ft. for longer than 15 minutes) and contact the sports teams for contact tracing and testing, making sure that those who did test positive would be quarantined for 10 days. 

Mooney was key to note that Las Lomas had no documented transmissions on campus as  a result of the caring actions of the teacher and staff and the guidelines set in place. Events were postponed and practices were cancelled as a precautionary measure as more and more screenings were being conducted every day to ensure that transmissions do not occur on campus and come to a halt altogether once given the proper treatment. Overall, Mooney felt that with all her helpers and support – including Christine Freitag, Tim Kruger, Nick Carpenter, County Department of Public Health Services, support from Attendance Personnel, our Administration and community members, etc. – “I feel very safe on campus, adding that students should be vigilant and controlling of themselves, but also understanding and sympathizing with the multitude of stress and anxiety students have suffered throughout the pandemic. Please be compassionate and think of others before acting; especially during the time of a continued pandemic…”

Sierra Brown, a freshman at Las Lomas, expressed her fears when she said “If I returned back to school right now I am afraid that I could get COVID, and then spread it to others by accident”. Another Las Lomas freshman, Kelsey Brown, expressed similar fears by saying “I am not worried about getting COVID myself but more worried about spreading the virus”. 

K. Brown said she was shocked by the spike. “I’m surprised that a spike has just happened rather than at the beginning of the hybrid model. But it is a bit frustrating because the spike could have been prevented.” S. Brown is feeling sympathetic. “I just think that it’s unfortunate for the people who got it, and the people that they came in contact with.”

 Sophia Margiotta, a Las Lomas senior, is feeling angry about the recent spike. “With the recent spike of COVID cases, I am scared that it may lead to our graduation getting canceled. It angers me that some people can be so selfish”, said Margiotta.