coronavirus in connecticut

Thousands of Students Forced to Quarantine After Possible COVID Exposure

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For the third day in a row, there were long waits at drive-up COVID testing sites across the state.

Some of those lining up were parents with students who’ve been asked to stay home and quarantine.

“You’re thinking you can get in and out and it’s not,” said a woman named Kathy, who asked us not to use her last name. “People aren’t prepared for this. Nobody expects it to be this long of a wait.”

Kathy and her daughter Stormey had to wait two hours to get tested for COVID-19. The 10-year-old showed symptoms on Thursday and was sent home from her Portland Intermediate School.

"Our choice was either 10 days stay home, a doctor’s note, or the COVID test negative," said Kathy. "I’d rather be safe than sorry.”

Stormey, like a growing number of students across our state, must quarantine either because they’re showing symptoms or were exposed to someone who has."

"I like going to school and seeing my friends and my teachers," said Stormey, hopeful she'd be able to return to school soon.

In Southington, 655 students were asked to quarantine on Friday among 11 schools in the district.

In West Hartford, 146 students and staff were quarantined along with 108 students in Manchester.

“The students that have quarantined have not contracted or caught COVID from being within schools,” said Dr. Amy Radikas, deputy superintendent of Manchester schools.

“When it gets down to it, we don’t see spread in our schools,” said Tom Moore, superintendent of West Hartford schools.

How do they know? Contact tracing.

“We’ve only been in 10 weeks, but 10 weeks nationally we’ve learned that schools aren’t super spreaders,” Moore said.

“Students are still out and about in parks and with friends, many students may also attend certain services or be part of outside sports,” added Radikas.

Kevin Elak runs the Middletown Health Department which has advised the school district there to require any student or staff member who may have come in contact with a case of coronavirus to quarantine for 14 days.

“We’re seeing a lot of cases in households,” Elak said.

For the dozen cases in the schools, there are nearly 400 Middletown students ordered to stay home.

“It’s going to get much worse before it gets better,” said Elak.

James Fowler said his son was told to quarantine from his Middletown elementary school on Monday. His family took the extra step to get tested Friday, though per school protocol he has to stay home the full 14 days no matter the test result.

“This is more for the safety of us and the community,” said Fowler.

“It can take a few days from exposure to start getting symptoms so you should stay in quarantine," said Elak.

Even if a COVID test comes back negative.

“It can actually take up to 14 days to start getting symptoms. We’ve actually had people on day 13 or 14 start getting symptoms and that’s when they tested positive," he explained.

Middle and high school students in West Hartford are still in hybrid mode. Some argue those are the type of students that are most susceptible to catching and spreading the virus because they spend more time outside the classroom when they don’t have to follow their school’s strict guidelines.

“To be honest with you, that is something I worry about dramatically,” said Moore. In the school, we know the kids are wearing masks all the time. My goal in 2021 to get all kids back in fully as soon as I possibly can.”

While some districts are already announcing plans to stay hybrid or go virtual through the middle of January, others are more optimistic.

“It does catch you by surprise knowing those other districts have made that choice, but we will stand by we’ll keep ourselves open as long as we can to keep children safe,” said Radikas.

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