Casady is one of the few schools which has decided to return to school primarily in-person, and the results have been positive… for at least two students in the Upper Division. ‘Positive’ as in Covid-19 tests.
If you have been watching Casady’s Covid-19 Dashboard stats as closely as I have, you’d be surprised to find only a few positive Covid-19 cases. For such a contagious virus, Casady’s numbers are almost hard to believe compared to the rocketing number of Covid-19 cases in the state of Oklahoma. These low numbers could be due to many factors. For one, Casady is a relatively smaller community, so the virus is controlled within a certain population, area, and time. But besides this obvious difference in population, Casady is noticeably taking more preventative measures than the state by simply requiring mask-wearing. There are also many other preventative measures in place, like social distancing, outdoor classes, installed hepa filters, smaller class sizes, and classrooms wiped down daily. However, when it really comes down to it, the thing that matters the most is actual handling of positive Covid cases. So how has Casady been doing on that front?
I sat down (six feet apart) with Mr. Crossno and Nurse Moss in a quick interview to ask them what actually happens when somebody at Casady is suspected of having Covid-19 and what the procedures are when that somebody’s tests come back positive. Right off the bat, I can definitely say somebody who tests positive for Covid is not whisked away in a black car, never to be seen again, forever isolated from society. However, the truth is a little more boring. Though, in this era, boring is certainly preferred over dangerous or life-threatening.
“First, how do you find out who has Covid? Do you look at symptoms first?”
The big, basic question on everybody’s mind: how do you find out if somebody has Covid? After all, Covid-19 could present itself as so many things: allergies, a cough, a fever, a sore throat, a loss of taste and smell, or nothing at all. Many young people are asymptomatic and can pass on the virus unknowingly. Does somebody decide to get tested because they’re feeling a little off and then report their results or does the nurse actively look for symptomatic people?
Moss: “Yes, if you’re symptomatic I definitely recommend testing.”
However, that wasn’t exactly the answer I was looking for.
Crossno: “For the students who’ve had positive tests, for the most part, they didn’t necessarily go get tests because of something [Nurse Moss] had seen…”
The Covid-19 tests really originated from outside sources, not from within the Casady campus. Nurse Moss elaborated further. She had a parent who tested positive, so she quarantined the kids and recommended testing. The kids tested positive, too. Then, there was a large group of 11th graders who went to a party before school even started, so the few positive cases never even made it on campus. The Nurse doesn’t actively look for sick people, so much as they notify her.
“How immediately is a student (who’s a determined close contact) transitioned into quarantine?”
The speed at which students are isolated once a Covid case is discovered is important. If a student was in close contact of someone who has Covid-19, that student could be walking around campus, possibly spreading the virus to many more students.
“As soon as I find out, I start interviewing students,” Moss said. “It could be within the hour of finding out somebody’s tested positive or towards the end of the day.” Once she determines if somebody is a close contact, she lets them know how long they’ll be in quarantine and then they check out their things with Ms. Milligan and leave. As for the actual interview process, everything is very controlled.
“For this last positive, I had several students waiting at a time, but we had them fifteen feet apart with masks waiting their turn to get interviewed. Basically we just get them out of class and isolate until we figure out if they can stay or not.”
“Has there been any testing on campus, yet?”
Although the positive cases which Casady has had so far have come from external testing, I was still curious to know more about Casady’s partnership with the Family Healthcare clinic.
“We are not testing on campus… yet,” Moss said with heavy emphasis on the word “yet”. “I actually have the testing material on campus but I’m waiting for the clinic to get me into their system.” So although Casady is not currently testing proactively, it’s looking to be in the cards in the near future.
And finally, what sources or establishments is Casady looking towards to guide it’s approach to Covid?
Crossno: “As far as the procedures we do, the number of organizations and people Ms. Moss and Mr. Sheldon talked to over the summer and continue to talk to is enormous. We look at the CDC requirements, the state guidelines, the Independent School Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Mr. Sheldon has been in contact with schools and doctors, epidemiologists east coast, west coast.”
“It’s unbelievable the number of resources that the administrative team has put together to make sure they stay very informed and current and up to date.”
Moss: “I actually have some local epidemiologists here in Oklahoma City that I stay in contact with almost daily. Most of our policies and things that I’ve written are taken from the CDC or the state.”
As we’re approaching nearly a month of in-person school, Casady has shown its strength in synthesizing information into action through quarantining, instituting precautionary measures, and maintaining transparency with the community. Casady’s low numbers are a testimony to the deliberateness with which every decision is made. Although Casady’s aim is to maintain the quality of education it prides itself on, these are certainly unpredictable times, and the safety of everyone is always the priority. Who really knows what will happen next, as it is still an ongoing experiment.