Breaking news: Carlmont student tests positive for COVID-19

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Isabelle Nunes

Students line up by a COVID-19 health sign to enter the office.

Just as in-person learning renewed for the year and school seemed to return to normalcy, the administration informed the Carlmont community of the first COVID-19 case known on campus.

Despite following San Mateo County health guidelines for returning on campus, at least one case was reported to the school within the first two days back. By Friday, Carlmont parents and staff received emails regarding a COVID-positive student and potential recent exposures.

Even as vaccination rates climbed to 91% for eligible receivers in San Mateo County, COVID-19 cases persisted in the area. Unfortunately, Carlmont was no exception to this trend. 

“Truthfully, cases are bound to happen because there are so many people at school, so we need to focus on minimizing that risk for everybody else. We all need to do our part to keep ourselves and each other safe if we want to keep the school open,” Principal Ralph Crame said.

Once the Carlmont High School Administration and Health Team receive notice of a positive case, they initiate contact tracing to determine those in close contact with that person. Although the identity of COVID-positive students remains protected, the Health Team sent parents emails with varying information depending on their student’s exposure level.

“I only found out that there was a case through a friend, and I feel like the protocols in place aren’t working. There were going to be cases regardless, but it is a bad sign if cases are popping up so quickly,” senior Merrick Fort said.

If a student was in a class with a COVID-positive peer, the email detailed the dates of exposure and encouraged them to self-monitor symptoms accordingly. Those determined to have been in close contact with the student are reached out separately to discuss necessary health steps.

However, some students have voiced concerns about how the administration has handled communication and felt that guidelines could be more stringent. Because of this, questions remain about exposure levels, the number of COVID-19 cases, and how the administration will ensure on-campus safety for the remainder of the year. 

“I feel that the school is not thoroughly protecting my safety enough since I was listed as someone who may have had contact with a COVID-positive student. I think students should be able to take better isolation measures, especially since people mingle both in classes and outside,” sophomore Samina Ginwalla said.

For now, the administration continues to enforce mask-wearing guidelines and encourages students to prioritize their health above all else.

“We need to create an environment where students are not afraid to stay home. Before the pandemic, we noticed a lot of pressure on students to return to school even if they were sick. We’re trying to eliminate that feeling of them being at a disadvantage because they stay home,” Crame said.

Despite these efforts, students continue to worry about the transparency of Carlmont’s administration surrounding COVID-19 information. Some feel that the guidelines put in place are too vague. Others felt that the administration should have sent information should have sent directly to the student body.

“All the email said was to monitor for symptoms. The administration only sent that email to my dad, not to mom or me. If they want to respond effectively, they should have stronger forms of contact tracing and require COVID-19 tests every so often,” Ginwalla said.