A Good Game of Telephone

12-06-2020Nurse's LetterShannon David, RN, NCSN

Many of us will recall playing the game “Telephone” growing up. A message was whispered in the ear of a person and they in turn whispered to the next person, and so on, down the line. It was usually a great laugh when the last person revealed what they heard. More often than not, it sounded nothing like what the first person said! Though the world has experienced four pandemics in the past 100 years, given the explosion of social media in the past decade, this is the first time in history that the global population has, at the same time, had access to so much information. It is not only the volume of information that is mind boggling, but the speed with which information can be spread can only be called “viral”.

Since the onset of the Pandemic, we have been inundated with information, often leaving us confused, frightened, and distressed. We may even participate in the passing of information, like the game of telephone, “This is what I heard. . .” making it all the more difficult to see what is true. We see the spread of coronavirus infection reflected in the color changes of the map (Arizona uses shades of red; the United States, shades of blue) and in the graphs that are used to make data visual. We see evidence around us of schools and businesses closing in response. And, we begin to hear things that make us question what we know to be true. During our weekly meeting with Public Health, the lead physician shared some information worth repeating. She explained that with the current high incidence of community spread of COVID, if an individual school has/had few cases, “children are safer in school than out in the community.”

We had the first self-reported COVID positive case in our school community over Thanksgiving break. Upon receiving the report, the protocol set in place by Maricopa County Department of Public Health (MCDPH) was immediately implemented. This protocol, which allows for the timely identification of close contacts and timely quarantine, helps prevent transmission of the virus to other community members. To ease the case burden of the Health Department, School Nurses have been given the direction to initiate the actions that need to be taken when notified of a COVID positive case and then the Health Department continues the case investigation and follow-up. Part of our School based protocol is the notification of the community. When notifying the community, we will not disclose personal information that would lead to the identification of the person in our community who may have had the misfortune of contracting COVID. We will take those actions that are known to stop transmission and maintain a safe and healthy environment for our students, staff and community. Back in August, the School Health Team (physicians, nurses and public health experts) of MCDPH recognized that each school community was unique and thus providing a framework for managing infection within the individual school community is the best approach--one size does not fit all.

From the outset, we recognized that OLMC has attributes most other schools do not. Among these is the strength of our partnership, “Home & School”, and our shared commitment to the mission of OLMC. Overwhelmingly, parents have supported this by continuing to perform “Daily Screenings”, keeping students home who are showing any sign of illness, reporting exposures, and getting tested for COVID--even when it is not convenient. Because of this, we have been able to continue with over 90% of our students on campus! Undoubtedly, the next two weeks leading up to Christmas Break will not bring a lessening of the “infodemic”. When doubt or confusion sets in, take heart in knowing our community’s greatest attribute is that the Truth dwells among us. . .also the Way and the Light. Let's resolve to see Him and show Him to one another!

St. Nicholas, the Wonderworker, pray for us!