Bloomfield responds fast to COVID-19 cases
As of Thursday, the Bloomfield School District has a total of four positive COVID-19 cases, two staff members and two students.
Bloomfield Nurse Renee McIntosh said she was notified by the staff members affected, the parents of the students and health department, and that they immediately worked on contact tracing back 48 hours from the start of symptoms or positive test, depending on what happened first.
Positive subjects were interviewed and all close contacts within the school were successfully located. The health department handles contact tracing for positive cases outside of the school.
“The teachers and bus drivers all keep seating charts so I can quickly determine who the close contacts are. We have our elementary students in “pods” of students. That means that they stay with the same group of children throughout the day in lunch, in the classroom and at their different activities throughout the day,” McIntosh said.
McIntosh said she was surprised by how well the students are responding to the new guidelines like wearing masks, but also sees some students struggling with anxiety.
However, McIntosh also understands that the guidelines are harder on parents. Now, instead of a child going home sick for one day, they must remain at home for 10 days if they show any coronavirus symptoms unless they obtain a note from a doctor saying their symptoms are unrelated, or show a negative covid test.
McIntosh is in charge of keeping track of students sent home with symptoms and determining when they can return to school.
“I miss being able to spend quality time talking to students and comforting the little ones,” McIntosh said. “It feels much more like running a business this year and much less personal. This is my 10th year as a school nurse and I truly miss the special time with the students. I am forced to keep all interactions brief due to covid precautions and social distancing efforts.”
But despite the changes, she is happy that students were able to come back, and luckily doesn’t have to do everything by herself this year. After nearly a decade of being the only healthcare staff member at the school, the administration agreed to hire a nurse’s assistant, Cris Floyd.
“We have an isolation room for students with symptoms to wait for their parents in. It is two doors down from the nurse’s clinic so my assistant supervises that room and helps with many other duties throughout the day,” McIntosh said. “She has been a lifesaver. I only allow three people in my office at a time so we can all stay as distanced as possible. I have chairs in the hallway for students who are waiting to come in. My office phone rings non-stop and I receive about 100 emails per day related to covid protocols and staff/student concerns.”
McIntosh urges parents to be patient and understanding, as student safety is the number one priority. And despite the tiresome PSA of hand washing, wearing masks and social distancing, she encourages students to take the guidelines seriously.
As another helper for the new year, McIntosh created a virtual nurse’s clinic filled with online resources to answer parent and student questions. McIntosh said that since protocols have changed multiple times since the school year started, it is easier to have an updatable platform accounting for those changes.
McIntosh completed the virtual clinic on Aug. 30, and made it public Monday, Aug. 31. You can find the virtual clinic at https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/17BcyAVOtQat32DX26hpdw5FYPE-GPQ_VwpIJg0pF....
McIntosh will be keeping all parents up to date on changes to health protocols as the school year progresses.