Written By Nora Sullivan
So far, 2020 has been hard on the International Falls School District. With cases rising it has been difficult for many parents and students to decide which way is the safest for schooling. The leaders of the school have been deciding what’s the best and most safe way for students, teachers, parents. I was able to email Falls High School’s nurse Leah Bacon and School Board Clerk Jennifer Windels. They were both able to give me very informational emails explaining many concerns about how Covid-19 is affecting the school, how they are handling it, and what we should do to remain physically in school.
How are cases tracked?
There have been 9 cases since school has started. If someone has tested positive, they are considered contagious 2 days before symptoms start. For Leah Bacon to be able to track cases, she needs to know when symptoms started, where they were 2 days before the symptoms started, and who they were around for longer than 15 minutes and were less than 6 ft apart. Quarantining helps prevent the spread of Covid-19, so Leah Bacon keeps a running list of people who have symptoms to determine whether it’s safe for them to return to school/work based on test results.
What happens when there is a case?
When Leah Bacon is notified of a case she finds out when their symptoms started, where they were 2 days before, and who they were with for longer than 15 minutes and were less than 6ft apart. While keeping the infected anonymous, she contacts those who were around them and tell them to stay home from school/work.
How can you protect yourself and others?
Wearing masks properly, washing your hands, social distancing, and cleaning and disinfection. “It's important to follow the mitigation strategies to decrease the chances of spreading or catching Covid-19.” Leah Bacon wrote “There are "holes" in each strategy but offer the most protection when the layers are combined.” It is also important to stay quarantined if you have tested positive. “If someone comes to school with symptoms or when someone in their home is sick, putting on a mask won't protect his or her classmates or the staff. They all matter and are important.” Jennifer Windels explained in her email. Wearing a mask alone reduces the risk of Covid-19 by 65%.
What can you do to slow the spread?
Though it is difficult not being able to see family and friends, it is important to follow the guidelines. Video chating, calling, or texting others is a great way to stay connected. “Humans need to connect but being up close and personal is pretty tough right now. Many kids (and adults) are finding new ways to connect.” Jennifer said.
Going for a walk rather than eating with someone, video chatting with a friend or a group, or even writing a letter are better ways to stay connected and safe. Most are finding comforts in social media right now, but it is also important to stay active and be outside. Going for a walk, doing a short work-out, reading a book or even playing a game has proven to lift one’s mood.
Reaching out and asking for help is important now more than ever. Whether it’s about a question on zoom or if you're struggling or upset, talking to a friend, parent, or teacher will help. If you don’t get help from the first person you reach out to, keep reaching out. It really is important to stay positive right now.
Being able to get such informational emails from Leah Bacon and Jennifer Windels has helped me understand more what the school is doing to fight Covid-19. If you want to look up information regarding Covid-19 and the risks, symptoms, or any other general question, here are some websites: