Chesapeake parent concerned over contact tracing in schools


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Chesapeake parents have one week left to decide if they want their child to go back to class part-time or learn 100 percent from home virtually.

One parent reached out to 10 On Your Side with concerns that the school is not being open about some information she believes is vital for families to make an informed decision. It’s about contact tracing and how it might affect working families.

Aspen Nolette had already decided two of her children would go back into Chesapeake Public Schools this fall when she heard two words that made her do a 180.

“The words ‘contact tracing’ came up very briefly and then they moved on, so that was kind of a red flag for me because it’s the first time I had heard about contact tracing in schools, ” she said.

By law doctors, labs and hospitals are required to report to the health department when someone tests positive for COVID-19. Then, a contact tracer will notify those who may have been exposed and tell them to quarantine for 14 days to help stop the spread.

As far as schools are concerned, the Chesapeake Health Department director told WAVY’s Stephanie Harris that right now, the logistics are still being worked out. The health department has been approved to hire an epidemiologist to work full-time with schools and daycares.

Nolette said, “This changed my decision. Now I will have to un-enroll my child.”

For Nolette, this is not about what’s best for public health, but what’s best for her family. Her understanding is that if her child is exposed, her whole family will be a part of the contact tracing and potentially asked to quarantine.

“They are going to want to trace my husband who is the sole provider for our family,” she said.

10 On Your Side called the department of health COVID-19 helpline and learned that if a child is exposed, family members would not necessarily have to quarantine if they could maintain 6 feet of social distance — something that would be difficult, if not impossible.

“This information had not really been relayed to the public when making their decisions for what was best for their families,” Nolette said she just wanted to warn other parents to consider this when making their back to school choice.

Based on her questions, the Chesapeake school district has added information to the frequently asked questions section on its website.

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