New Quarantine Procedure in Effect Throughout District


Aniya Sparrow

With the sharp increase of positive covid-19 cases more students are pulled out of school for contact tracing.

On Nov. 24. Superintendent Nathan Hoven announced a new quarantine protocol to be in effect at all Francis Howell schools starting Nov. 30. The initial plan announced by Gov. Mike Parson on Nov. 12 states that, should someone test positive for COVID-19, the exposed persons don’t have to be quarantined so long as they and the people exposed to them were wearing their masks properly. Should improper mask usage of someone exposed to the virus be reported by a faculty member, that exposed person will be sent home, same applies to being exposed at lunch. For sports, quarantining will be treated under the assumption that masks aren’t being worn. There is still high advocacy for social distancing and hand hygiene, in addition to wearing masks. 

According to Principal Sonny Arnel, the decision was made after reports have shown that mask wearing in schools is an effective prevention of the spread of COVID-19. 

“The St. Charles County Health Department looked into [the spread of covid at schools] much deeper with all the superintendents and they came to the conclusion that based on the data that the districts have been submitting to the St. Charles County Health Department, we were not seeing the spread of covid at schools,” Dr. Arnel said. 

The people being sent home via contact tracing in classrooms remained healthy, it was when the clock hit 2:20 that all bets were off. From sports teams to carpooling, this was where the health department traced most cases back to according to Dr. Arnel. 

“A lot of the kids that would spread it between each other, it wasn’t [at school], this wasn’t the only place they hung out, they were hanging out outside of school,” Dr. Arnel said. “Oftentimes in your friend group you’re not gonna wear masks, in the car, on the weekends.”

That’s not to say transmission never occurred in a classroom, Dr. Arnel noted. 

“It was hard for me to say where the transmission occurred. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t [at school], because how could I validate that?”

In order to ensure masks are being properly worn a new mask pass will be implemented next week, similar to a dress code violation pass, it will be given to students who have previously been warned about wearing a mask improperly yet continue to disregard established guidelines. The result of getting a mask pass will be a conversation with your principal and a call home. Should the behavior continue consequences will ensue, ranging from detentions to suspensions depending on how many warnings you are given. Other students are encouraged to report any improper mask wearing to a staff member or principal via the QR codes hung around school, an email, or a drop by the main office. 

“You make the environment you live in by what you do and what you don’t do,” Dr. Arnel said.

While some are happy they no longer have to worry about getting contact traced if they’re masking properly, this decision also sparked backlash in the FHC community. Senior Emma Smallen started a petition to reverse the ruling back to the original contact tracing plan. With more than 2,500 signatures many students, parents, and staff are voicing their disapproval of the new policy.

 “Students should have a voice in these decisions,” Smallen said. “High school students are more than capable of having open discussions to be heard. I feel like we haven’t had that.”

 Dr. Arnel has seen the petition and commends these students for their actions taking a stand. He wants to listen to what they have to say.

“I’ll have to take that into consideration; how am I going to communicate that, […] how do I appease, how do I help educate and communicate [to] the people that are concerned, and how do I make sure I listen to those concerns,” Dr. Arnel said.

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