Is our school’s contact tracing program superficial?

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Ian Laurence, Contributing Writer

Going to school during the COVID-19 pandemic is a risk that students and faculty members take every day.  In attempts to increase the safety of students and faculty, Schreiber has established methods of contact tracing such as bathroom sign-out sheets, daily health screenings, and assigned seats in every class.  

These methods aim to document where students are at any given time, so in the case of a student testing positive, those around them can be quarantined appropriately.  However, contact tracing at Schreiber is highly ineffective and is only in place as a formality. 

First of all, the contact tracing is slow.  Despite the school’s best efforts, the majority of students that are exposed to COVID-19 will not be quarantined before exposing other students.       

“They inform everyone too late.  People that I know that have been exposed have been given the news by their friends first,” said junior Ariel Im.

Schreiber’s inefficiency at getting news out to people who have been exposed to COVID-19 makes the system as a whole, useless in preventing infections.

Additionally, the contact tracing they do is not representative of everyone a student has been in contact with.  For example, the most common places of exposure to COVID-19 are in the gym, cafeteria, and commons.  However, the school does not have any documentation of the people that students are in contact with in these areas.  Therefore, Schreiber’s tracking of bathrooms and classrooms is meaningless in comparison.

Even so, efforts to promote contact tracing in lunch rooms may ruin the social aspect of off periods and lunch.  

“While further contact tracing in the gym and cafeteria would be useful, it should not restrict the ability of students to be with friends,” said sophomore Austin Hyde.  

If the need for increased social distancing and contact tracing is needed, Schreiber needs to create a solution to accommodate social needs.

Due to its inefficiency, the school’s contact tracing serves more use as a means of giving a sense of safety to students, and in making more students feel comfortable with coming to school during a pandemic.  With COVID-19 cases at a low compared to last year, it is reasonable for the school to use contact tracing only as a means to give students and faculty more peace of mind.  However, in regards to preventing the spread of more cases, Schreiber’s contact tracing provides little support.

Despite its flaws, contact tracing at Schreiber is not all bad.  The ideas behind Schreiber’s contact tracing are good, but they have been poorly executed and lacking in some areas.  For example, the daily health screening is ineffective because almost all students will answer that they have had no symptoms regardless of if they did or not.  Additionally, the classroom sign out sheets are impractical as they do not record exactly where in the building students are going. 

“I think it’s a good idea but it could be executed better,” said junior Tamara Martinez.  

The individual methods that Schreiber uses could definitely be improved.  Furthermore, new methods of contact tracing in higher-risk areas of the school could be implemented.  For example, students could be asked to fill out a short one question survey on which seat they sat in when visiting the cafeteria.  Contact tracing at Schreiber, while better than nothing, definitely has room for improvement.

Therefore, contact tracing at Schreiber is highly superficial, and it hardly brings peace of mind to those attending school.  Despite the good nature and ideas of the system, the poor execution makes it nearly useless.  Contact tracing has a long way to go before it is actually preventative, but room for improvement is a bright sign for the future.