Hillcrest Elementary Food Service Employee Tests Positive for Covid-19 and How this Could Effect Reopening



This is a photo of students at a school social distancing and wearing masks.

Olivia Winn, Writer

On November 9th 2020, a Hillcrest elementary school food service worker tested positive for COVID-19.  This brought many questions and concerns; one of the biggest being, how does this affect hybrid learning.  More specifically, what would happen if something like this occurred at Oakdale High School?


OHS started the transition to hybrid learning with small groups from certain classes.  There have been no outbreaks so far, but that could change when more students start coming into the building. 


If there was a student or staff member who tested positive,the school would require that student or staff member to quarantine for 14 days.  


Timothy Cromwell, the health tech for Oakdale high school stated, “The student/staff member and close contacts would go back to virtual, as isolation and quarantine would be required.  Naturally their participation in virtual would depend on their degree of symptoms.”


The school system has created a procedure, should anyone test positive for COVID. They would need to be required to isolate for 10-14 days, the close contacts would be required to isolate during the incubation period.  


Lisa Smith, the principal at OHS, mentioned, “We determine where did the student or staff member get it?  When did the student or staff member get it? And quarantine for 14 days.”


The Board of Education decided for the first semester there would be exclusively virtual learning.  The second semester they decided that hybrid learning would occur.  This decision could  be altered if cases have a steep increase.  

Cromwell mentioned, “This will be up to the Board Of Education (BOE) and will depend on where the infection rates are for Frederick county prior to the January 28th date of the start of hybrid.  Currently the rates are trending up.”


People are concerned about contact tracing and what that would entail for hybrid learning.  Now at this moment in time OHS will be doing contact tracing. For those who  are concerned, patient confidentiality is still required. Smith reminded,  “We never disclose who’s sick, we tell you generally if you have been in close contact.”


The process of contact tracing can get complicated.   The parent or staff member would contact the school, the information would come from the health department, the health department would gather information from the parent or the staff member of who they had been in contact with the positive person 48 hours prior to the person testing positive.


Hybrid learning differs from in person learning and virtual in many ways.  There would be groups of students who go into school on Mondays and Tuesdays.  Wednesday would be used as a day to disinfect the school.  Then, the second group of students would go into the school on Thursdays and Fridays.  The days that students don’t go in would do virtual learning. 


Smith explains, “The school has been divided into two cohorts.  Cohort A would go into school Monday and Tuesday and stay home and do online learning Wednesday Thursday and Friday.  Cohort B would go into school Thursday and Friday.  We have smaller groups.”


OHS does have a plan if an outbreak happens at school.  They will make sure everyone who tests positive will quarantine for 10-14 days.  They will also make sure that students will still learn and will be safe.