Observational Learning

08-22-2021Nurse's LetterShannon David, RN, NCSN

One of the greatest challenges, over the past 18 months, has been how to interpret and apply the many data points that track various aspects of the Pandemic. As most are aware, data is gathered at the global, continental, national, state and local levels (county, city, district) and can be easily accessed by anyone, at any time.

The data that has proved most helpful to our community is that found on the Maricopa County Department of Public Health COVID Dashboard (www.maricopa.gov/5460/Coronavirus-Disease-2019). Analysis of this data, in conjunction with observations of what is occurring in other communities, guides the medical professionals at the County level in their weekly guidance to us (school health professionals).

Two weeks into our school year, we are beginning to gather data specific to our school community of 411 students, ages 5 to 14, and 42 staff/teachers (older than 14). 

Here is a summary of data for August 10, 2021 through August 20, 2021:

  • 6 COVID positive cases were reported in the week prior to the beginning of classes on August, 10, 2021. None of these cases resulted in an on-campus exposure.
  • In all cases, isolation/quarantine periods were completed in accordance with Maricopa Count Department of Public Health Guidelines.
  • 1 COVID positive case was reported on August 20, 2021. The person was on campus during the defined infectious period and protocols for reporting and notification were followed.
  • From August 10, 2021 - August 20, 2021, 18 people in the school community have been placed in quarantine. Quarantine is not required for those who are fully vaccinated. 23% of people identified as close contacts of COVID positive cases have been fully vaccinated.
  • 94% of those identified as close contacts have been the result of a contact outside of school.

In comparison to data from last school year:

  • There were 0 reported COVID positive cases in the two weeks preceding the beginning of school on September 8, 2020.
  • The first circumstance that necessitated quarantine of students was in October 2020.
  • 3 students were placed in quarantine after being identified as close contacts to a COVID positive case outside of school.
  • In November 2020, 1 COVID positive case, on campus, required quarantine of 6 close contacts; 34 quarantined due to out of school contact.

When one looks at the August 2021 epidemiological curve for case counts per day in Maricopa County (www.azdhs.gov/covid19/data/index.php#confirmed-by-day) it does not look much different than it did in July 2020. This should serve as a reminder that we remain in a time of high transmission of a highly contagious virus. In our Smart, Healthy & Holy Plan, ‘Community Data’ and ‘OLMC Data’ are the two Health Indicators we monitor to guide mitigation measures. Additionally, we can look to other schools within our area/Diocese, other cities within our county, other counties within our state, and other states within our nation to gain observational information. In many instances, this information provides a cautionary tale (School District Closures) of what could be to come. But, we have the benefit of learning from the experience of others and though challenges may lay ahead, we should remain optimistic knowing that we were able to navigate the challenges of the pandemic last year. We became one of the few schools that remained open all year long for in-person learning with minimal illness. We accomplished that by working together, consistently adhering to mitigation measures and supporting one another to become smart, healthy and holy. We can do the same this year!

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, pray for us!