As winter approaches, two significant problems present in relation to health care, COVID-19 and education: student quarantines and compliance with containment measures.
Earlier in November — with the trend since shifting to a decrease in cases — quarantines in the St. Joseph School District surpassed 500 for the first time since mid-September. Each of the affected persons, even if showing no symptoms, is prompted to isolate at home for at least seven days; for students, it’s 14. The circumstances in most of these situations are single cases of exposure to someone who tested positive.
Dave Dillon, vice president of the Missouri Hospital Association, affirmed that such trends are a norm throughout the state, and they pose a vexing issue.
“The biggest challenge we are currently having, with our capacity at the hospitals, is not related to stuff,” he said. “That’s ‘stuff’ as in, personal protective equipment, medical supplies, cleaning materials … it’s not like it was earlier on in the pandemic. We have the things we need. We do not have all of the people we need.”
When young children are sent home from school, their parents often can’t find someone to chaperone them or can’t afford it, and so one or both parents must be excused from work to watch the kids. In the state’s health-care industry, it’s all hands on deck — no vacations, overtime is the name of the game. Unplanned absences are avoided, lest they throw a wrench in the gears. This is true for health-care providers as well as all forms of support staff.
Dillon said that at this time, statewide as many as 10% of all medical providers are in quarantine or must be at home to care for those in quarantine at any given time.
“That challenge is compounding all other challenges related to delivery of care,” he said. “We’re doing that because we don’t want to see our health-care system overwhelmed … as far as practical recommendations, we go with the gold standard, and that gold standard is the CDC.”
The changes allow people in a school building where a strict face-covering requirement is in place to sometimes avoid quarantine. If a person wears a mask properly at all times and comes into “confirmed contact” for 15 cumulative minutes or longer with a person who tests positive, the former person doesn’t have to go home. That is, unless they themselves get sick or test positive.
Dillon described the importance of this as focused on the potential in beneficial impacts of a mask mandate. Whether quarantines are applied to keep people who get exposed from in turn exposing others, or if strict enforcement of mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing is applied, the end outcome must be the same: Fewer people getting actively sick, leading to fewer people being hospitalized.
“We’re encouraging Missourians to follow (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) guidelines,” he said.
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- Georgia Dept. of Education announces 2021 legislative priorities – WALB
- Gov. Hutchinson launches ‘Ready for Life’ education and jobs program – wreg.com
- Live Updates: Latest News on Coronavirus and Higher Education – Inside Higher Ed
- Board of Education union calls on Gov. Lamont for a ‘clear’ COVID-19 policy for schools – FOX 61
- COVID testing pilot in early education underway in Massachusetts – MassLive.com
- US Department of Education Announces Additional College Scorecard Updates, Providing Greater Transparency on Borrower Repayment Progress and Postsecondary Costs – U.S. Department of Education
- America’s education system is in need of dramatic reform – CNN