The Madison Metropolitan School District added 81 new positive COVID-19 cases and 474 new quarantines since last Wednesday, according to its case tracker.
The tracker, which is updated every Wednesday by the district, shows the cumulative number of positives since Aug. 18 up to 243 and the cumulative quarantines at 1,219. Within the past 14 days, there have been 144 positives and 789 quarantines.
Numbers reflect the total for staff and students and the district does not provide a breakdown between the two groups. The district has more than 26,000 students and 3,000 staff members.
MMSD spokesman Tim LeMonds wrote in an email that quarantines “are out of an abundance of caution,” and that number rising along with cases in schools and communities show that safety protocols like contract tracing “are indeed working.”
“What you see happening in our schools is a reflection of what is happening in our community,” he wrote. “Whenever there have been upward trends of positive cases in Dane County, historically, we have seen similar increases in our schools, particularly around the number of quarantines.
“I would be more concerned if I saw a spike of cases in the community, and fewer quarantines in schools, which would be a sign our protocols may not be working.”
According to the Sept. 23 data snapshot from Public Health Madison & Dane County, cases had increased to an average of 142 per day over the two-week period from Sept. 5-19. The snapshot also noted the increase in youth cases.
For all school-age age groups, the total cases from Sept. 5-19 increased from the total cases from Aug. 23 to Sept. 5. For those ages 5-7, it went from 71 to 87 and for ages 8-11, it rose from 125 to 158. Those in the 12-17 age group saw a 44% increase, from 90 cases in the earlier two-week period to 130 in the latter.
Individuals who were within six feet of someone who tests positive for a period exceeding 15 minutes in a given day are considered a “close contact,” as is anyone who has direct physical contact with a COVID-19 positive person. Students properly wearing masks are allowed to be slightly closer, with those as close as three feet not considered close contacts. If masks are not being worn properly, however, the six feet distance applies.
People identified as close contacts through contract tracing are required to quarantine for either 10 days or seven days with a negative test result taken six or seven days after the potential exposure.
PHMDC’s mask order is active into next month and MMSD is also requiring masks be worn outdoors on school grounds. The district is also increasing mitigation efforts with a vaccine requirement for staff and volunteers, approved Monday, that will require them to be vaccinated by Nov. 1.
Three schools have had more than 100 people quarantined so far this year: West High School with 275 (11 positives), East High School with 135 (22 positives) and Whitehorse Middle School with 119 (10 positives).
At the elementary school level, Sandburg has had 80 people quarantined, by far the most among that level, and 14 people test positive. Four other elementary schools have had more than 30 people quarantined: Leopold at 37, Chavez at 36, Emerson at 32 and Nuestro Mundo at 32.
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