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Students fear academic setback during isolation if they test positive

Students underwent two take-home COVID-19 tests on Wednesday as well as access to a new weekly on-campus testing clinic at the Berry Center. This should help PAUSD combat the current omicron outbreak, said Rose Doyle, health district coordinator for the Palo Alto Consolidated School District. “Having a COVID clinic on campus and additional home testing for students will help us ensure that infected students do not infect their classmates,” Doyle said. (Photo: Madeleine Castro).

Despite having passed the required period of self-isolation last week after testing positive for Covid-19, some Palo Alto High School students remain concerned about the negative impact of school absences on their academics.

The change, announced Friday by District Administrator Don Austin, states that students will no longer have to wait 10 days before returning to campus. On advice from the CDC, students who test positive must isolate for five days, show no symptoms, and test negative in order to return to campus.

Although this reduction in isolation time is a good thing for PAUSD students and families, the fact that students should miss any amount of school is frustrating.

Junior Ethan Wong is one of several Paly students who have tested positive for the virus in the past week. Since the junior year’s second semester is known for its academic stress due to upcoming college applications, Wong said he worries about the time he spends away from class.

“I am so nervous because I miss this school so much,” Wong said. “I wish them [PAUSD] They will already be online. ”

Wong said he believes the best response the region can provide to the growing number of cases is to return to distance learning.

Junior Lauren Levine also tested positive and has spent the past few days in isolation at her home. Levine said she will try to keep up with her classwork with Schoology assignments despite missing the corresponding lessons. However, Levine said it will take weeks to catch up on items she missed in just a few days.

“What would have been really helpful was going online for the first few weeks after the winter break,” Levine said. “So everyone who’s at home won’t have to worry about missing class.”

Rose Doyle, PAUSD Health District Coordinator, is the supervisor of the direct contact that PAUSD staff have with families of students who have tested positive or may have been exposed to the virus. Doyle said she and her team continue to see more and more students anxious about quarantined school truancy, along with frustrated parents.

“this [isolating after a positive test] Doyle said. “Because I and many others value education, I understand why students are frustrated to miss school, but these are the guidelines we have to follow.”

Although self-isolation after a positive test has bothered many, Doyle recommends that students take a step back and appreciate all that PAUSD has to offer.

“Not all counties are able to do the same kind of COVID testing and system setup that we can get,” Doyle said. “It really is a privilege.”

According to Dowell, PAUSD makes every effort to consider the academic needs of students. However, Doyle said the health of staff and students will always be a top priority.

“The amount of access that we need to have in order to take the tests for our students and staff to be safe and know they are okay is huge,” Doyle said.

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