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Lincoln Southwest principal discusses COVID-19 case, contact tracing and precautions

A Southwest High School student is quarantined after testing positive for the Coronavirus after...
A Southwest High School student is quarantined after testing positive for the Coronavirus after a trip to the school nurse on Wednesday, the first day back to school.(KOLN)
Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 5:24 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -

A previous version of this story said a Lincoln Southwest student had tested positive, however it’s currently unknown whether or not it’s a staff member or student.

A Southwest High School attendee is quarantined after testing positive for the Coronavirus after a trip to the school nurse on Wednesday, the first day back to school.

"We prepared for this, we planned for this," Mike Gillotti said. "Overall, we learned our process is effective."

A letter from Lincoln Public Schools said the person was sent home after going to the school nurse with symptoms, and once the test came back positive, the notification process started.

"It was all hands on deck," Gillotti said.

If a student or employee tests positive, the school nurse or human resources are notified and they partner with the Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department to do contact tracing. Any high risk contacts are notified.

The Health Department said close contact is when an individual who was within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from two days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, two days prior to positive specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.

If either or both people are wearing masks the exposed person is asked to self monitor. If they're not wearing masks, they're asked quarantine for two weeks.

Gillotti said that process is still underway. Though precautions put in place throughout the school are designed to prevent those close contacts.

First, only half of the students are in the school at a time, and when they are they're wearing masks and distancing.

"Classes that are bigger are using larger spaces, like putting the choir in the auditorium," Gillotti said. "Science, art and PE are encouraged to get outside."

Lunch periods and tables are rearranged too. Now, about 400 kids eat lunch at a time, that's about 300 fewer than normal.

"There's a lot more room at tables," Gillotti said.

There's also hand sanitizer throughout the school and staff monitor student movement to prevent large clusters of students from gathering.

Gillotti said students are cooperating and everything is going according to plan.

“I trust our team, I trust our procedures, we’re prepared,” he said.

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