Students struggle to keep up with 10 day quarantine

A+student+attempts+to+remain+caught+up+in+self-isolation+while+their+classmates+continue+learning+in+the+physical+environment.

Illustration by Sophia Meytin

A student attempts to remain caught up in self-isolation while their classmates continue learning in the physical environment.

As a way to reduce the spread of COVID-19, MCPS mandates that anyone with a positive rapid or PCR test self-quarantine for 10 days, and anyone who has had close contact to quarantine for 10 days if symptomatic.

As of Oct. 29, about 17 WJ students have had to self-quarantine because they tested positive for the virus. This doesn’t take into account the number of symptomatic, unvaccinated individuals who have had to self-quarantine because contact tracing revealed them to be a close contact of the positive-testing student.

“We… [have to figure out] which classes the student was in, who they were eating with at lunchtime, whether they rode the bus or not, were masks being worn the entire time [and down to] who they were in close contact with for more than 15 minutes while they still had symptoms,” administrator Jeff Leaman said.

Students who do end up having to quarantine because of contact-tracing are notified by the school via letter or email that they must self-isolate for 10 days.

Although the school says 10 days, there seems to be some sort of a disconnect between the county’s school health officials and its general health officials.

“The school told my mom I need to quarantine for 10 days [after we notified them of the positive test], but we got advice from the COVID testing clinic that I should quarantine for 14,” junior Maayan Chashper said.

As for quarantining students and their families, there is an additional lack of communication between them and administration.

“They didn’t really check up on anything that was going on… I actually didn’t know that they did contact-tracing for us [me and another positive-testing student] until someone from my class told me,” Chashper said.

Additionally, administration’s attempt to facilitate students’ continued participation in class virtually has been minimally effective at best. Over the span of these 10 days, students are responsible for keeping up with their classes on their own time and are offered minimal extra support, despite school attempts to combat this. Aside from a single optional Zoom each day outside of class, there currently doesn’t seem to be another way for the student to remain connected with their teachers and stay caught up on coursework.

“It was a really bad process because I was told that I wasn’t allowed to join classes [in real-time] on Zoom, but at the same time I had to do all the classwork and homework while I was at home. I was doing all the content that my classmates were being assigned, but I wasn’t getting the lesson, so it was hard,” Chashper said.

From what has been observed, administration may need to maintain a firmer grip on quarantining students to ensure they don’t fall behind.

“Since I’ve been back [about a month], I’m still going every day to my classes to learn the material [missed while quarantining],” Chashper said.

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