Verona schools defines policy for handling COVID cases

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Simmons: Aim is to protect students, staff

The Verona school district has defined how it will handle any COVID-19 positive cases or quarantines within the district, aiming to keep all health information as private as possible.

Tony Simmons, Verona superintendent, said the district will not release any personal information about positive cases, nor will the district announce to the public how many cases the district may or may not have.

“In the case of a COVID positive, we have seating charts and information to provide the Lawrence County Health Department to complete contact tracing,” he said. “The health department is in charge of determining all close contacts, and in the case of a positive, we will inform the parents of children affected so the people that need to know will know.

“We are a small district, so any further information we release might allow our students or staff to be identified and their FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) rights be violated, and they could suffer repercussions from that. We will not announce cases because we do not want to increase paranoia or hype any situation up to be more than what it is. We are doing this to protect our students and staff.”

Simmons said when a student is deemed a close contact by the health department, that student’s parents or guardians will be notified quickly.

“If you are a parent and you are not hearing anything, your child is not in danger per health department guidelines,” he said.

Regarding sports and possible cases or quarantines, Simmons said the district will only cancel games should a team not have enough athletes to participate.

“We may lose some players here or there, but we will go on as we can,” he said. “If we do have to cancel a sport, we will let the parents know. And, if you are not a parent of an athlete in the district, that information will not be announced to the public.”

Simmons said as far as precautions, the district is stressing social distancing in all grade levels, and masks are required when in common areas.

“We are a small district and with our smaller class sizes, we have no issues staying six feet apart,” he said. ”That is making a big difference in limiting close contacts via contact tracing.”

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