SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As COVID-19 once again tightens its grip on South Dakota, the health department is hiring more people to help with contact tracing.
When someone tests positive for the virus, it’s their job to figure out who they came in contact with so those people can isolate and get a test. This year, more school districts including Sioux Falls are no longer doing contact tracing on their own.
Thursday, students sit shoulder to shoulder for an assembly at Ben Reifel Middle school. For these kids, it’s the third school year impacted by the pandemic… And some rules haven’t changed.
The Sioux Falls School District continues to encourage masks and physical distancing when it’s practical.
But one thing that has changed is how these kids will find out if they’re a close contact. Last year, school staff members did contact tracing. This year it’s up to the state.
According to the Sioux Falls School District’s Continue to Learn plan, middle schools and high schools will send out a note to the entire school when there’s a positive test — something that’s already happened this week at several schools including Ben Reifel.
Once the state health department receives close contact information, a spokesman says families can expect a text or email within 24 to 48 hours if not sooner.
The state currently has 64 people doing contract tracing and hopes to add 40 more people in the next few weeks.
Even if you don’t hear from the state, the district wants every parent to monitor their child for symptoms like a fever or cough. If you notice them, health officials recommend getting at test.
The Sioux Falls district is also sending out classroom letters if a child who tests positive is in Kindergarten through the fifth grade.
The state has also added some new technology that should speed up the contact tracing process.