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Davis School District hires dedicated COVID-19 contact tracers

Posted at 5:36 PM, Sep 28, 2020

DAVIS COUNTY, Utah — At least 120 people in the Davis School District are sick with COVID-19 Monday.

The job of tracking people down who had contact with those people is time-consuming and often difficult.

The Davis School District is the only district in the state using $1.2 million to hire dedicated contact tracers for each school.

Henry Ashton was hired by the district to contact trace at Woods Cross High School.

“When we get one or two cases a day, it is going to be a full day process making sure we have everyone isolating and locking down so it doesn’t spread to the rest of the school,” said Ashton, who is a junior at Utah Valley University.

For a couple days a week, Ashton talks to teachers, students and families who may need to quarantine because of COVID-19 exposure.

“We triple, double, quadruple check just to make sure that we are not sending someone home for no reason at all or that we are sending someone home that needs to be sent home,” said Ashton.

The Davis County Health Department set aside $700,000 of CARES Act funding while the district added another half-million to pay for the new hires. Each elementary school is assigned a COVID aide. Intermediate and high schools have two.

“The health department trains the COVID aides so while they are in our schools. They are our employees, but they are trained to know exactly what the health department needs from them,” said Davis School District spokesman Chris Williams.

Woods Cross administration wouldn’t get specific on the number of COVID cases at the school, only saying it’s less than 15.

Assistant Principal Mike Moss credits the COVID aides and the hybrid schedule for keeping numbers low.

“By doing that, we are able to keep kids in school, and ultimately that’s what we want to do,” said Moss.

Earlier this month at a Canyons School District board meeting, staff was made aware of school nurses responsible for contact tracing who say they’re overworked, overwhelmed and thinking about quitting.