New data released by the Janesville School District shows the district’s high schools have been hit hardest by coronavirus infections.
The district Thursday unveiled a new dashboard that shows how many students and staff members have been infected, how many people were in close contact with them, and how many more were not that close but were told to monitor themselves closely for symptoms.
The numbers show 10 high school students with “active cases,” 188 students on quarantine because they had been in close contact with someone with the virus, and 750 students deemed to be “low risk” because their contact was not as close.
In the three middle schools and 12 elementary schools combined, there were five students with active cases in the seven days ending Wednesday, 20 with close contact and 90 at low risk.
District spokesman Patrick Gasper did not know the number of students attending the high schools, so the percentage of students affected is unknown.
Last year, Parker High School had about 1,300 students and Craig about 1,600, but those numbers dropped this fall as students switched to the district’s all-virtual option, ARISE Virtual Academy.
Two schools, Roosevelt Elementary and Craig, suspended in-person classes and went virtual Sept. 16 after three elementary and six high school-age students tested positive.
Plans are to continue the virtual-only schooling at Craig and Roosevelt at least through Friday, Oct. 2.
Gasper said district staff —including principals, assistant principals, deans, social workers and school nurses—are contact-tracing every case. That work typically takes one to two hours per case.
The district Thursday also announced it is considering ways to reduce “in-school, non-classroom interactions, particularly in secondary schools.”
Gasper said officials are just starting to discuss ideas after the Rock County Public Health Department suggested reducing contacts.
“We’re looking at a whole bunch of different options, but I don’t know that anything has been decided yet,” Gasper said.
He said changes in students’ schedules might help. Another step might be reducing the number of desks in classrooms.
“Information on any potential schedule modification will be provided as soon as possible,” according to a district news release.
Among staff, three active cases are reported in the elementary schools, three in high schools and one in middle schools. Gasper said some of the staff might have caught the virus from somewhere outside the schools.
In the news release, Superintendent Steve Pophal suggested more schools might have to shift to virtual schooling if people don’t follow health protocols.
“We need everyone’s help and cooperation to continue to be able to provide face-to-face instruction,” he said. “We’ve already had to pivot to online instruction for two schools, and only by working together, we can minimize the frequency and duration of those pivots while reducing the spread of the COVID-19.”