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School here in LA County has reopened after the holiday break, and all talk is testing and quarantines. The local Facebook parents group is full of parents expressing angst about the threat of their kids getting exposed to a sick kid and having to deal with the consequences and trying to find testing sites and in-home tests.
Interestingly, very little of the concern seems to be over the risk of the illness to their kids, but the risk and consequences of exposure. Parents are upset that their kids are telling them of classmates who are coming to school sick or said they tested positive but came to school anyway. (My son’s principal says that’s just random anecdotal stuff, and not to give it too much credit.) They’re upset that their healthy kids have been exposed and now need to find a way to get tested to remain in school. Where are test sites with the shortest lines? Where can home tests be found?
They’re upset that their kids are no longer sick, but keep testing positive and can’t return to school. They’re upset that kids who have to go to independent study because they’re in quarantine are just getting homework assignments, and no lessons (these are high school kids who are concerned about grades). I talked to one parent today who was happy her kids got COVID over the holiday, because now they get a 90-day pass to any sort of quarantine or testing if they’re exposed and do not get sick!
I received notification last night that my son was identified as a close contact to someone who tested positive at school, and therefore had to quarantine because it’s been more than six months since his last vaccine. There’s a modified quarantine option that allows him to remain in school if he tests negative on Day 1 and Day 5 after exposure. Well, he was notified on Day 3, so to follow the letter of the law, he needed to get tested today (Day 4) and tomorrow (Day 5) to remain in school. Because of the testing schedules on campus, he was allowed to go to school in the morning, and get tested after lunch, so technically, he spent Day 4 on campus without a negative test. He dutifully hustled in line immediately after his last class, waited 45 minutes, and got his test (negative, fortunately).
Unfortunately, not all the students who need to get tested will be so fortunate. Tests are limited and demand is high, so those who arrive later in the day may find themselves shut out and having to wait till tomorrow to get tested. Technically, my son needs to get tested again tomorrow to end his “modified quarantine,” so he would be competing with those same students again to get an elusive test. That’s two tests, two days in a row, to follow a modified quarantine order.
Maybe the biggest risk of omicron is not the illness but the preventions – maybe we shouldn’t be forcing healthy kids to quarantine, or to get tested to prove they’re not sick if they sit next to someone for 15 minutes one day in class, both while wearing masks. Maybe we shouldn’t treat someone who completed their initial vaccinations more than six months ago the same as someone who has not been vaccinated at all. Heck, if vaccinations don’t prevent transmission, why does vaccination status even matter when it comes to quarantine rules, especially for school-aged children whose risk of serious illness is quite low?Published in