Arizona schools, childcare centers required to report COVID-19 outbreaks

The state defines an outbreak as “two or more lab-confirmed cases on-site within a two-week period.”

MARICOPA COUNTY, Ariz. – On Aug. 24, Arizona issued a new reporting mandate for schools and childcare centers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

So far, there are no known COVID-19 outbreaks in schools or centers in the Phoenix-area, just a handful of individual positive cases.

Hundreds of students across the state returned to the classroom, in-person, the week of Aug. 17. Maricopa High School is one of the first schools to publicly report an individual positive COVID-19 case to parents and the surrounding community.

Along with schools, childcare centers also required to notify parents, which is something the Boys and Girls Club has been doing.

“They’ve been one by one-by-one. We’ve been able to notify parents and staff members where each of those happened. We notified them immediately,” explained Cassidy Campana with the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Phoenix.

There hasn’t been a known outbreak among its centers for the past five months, Campana said, adding they’ve been accommodating hundreds of children of frontline workers.

The state defines an outbreak as “two or more lab-confirmed cases on-site within a two-week period.”

Campana says cleaning protocols and other safety measures appear to be working. “They’re wearing masks, they’re doing hand sanitizer. We say, ‘gel in and gel out of room,'” Campana said.

The Balsz School District welcomed nearly 600 students back to school campuses last week. The district even created a rap video to educate parents and kids on the new safety protocols.

“We’ve had the opportunities for our maintenance and custodians to talk to parents about what they’re doing to keep the classrooms clean and what parents can do to support it,” said Dr. Arleen Kennedy, the district’s superintendent.

The district also hired more custodians.

If and when a school or childcare center discovers a COVID-19 outbreak on its campus, it’s required to report the cases to county health officials.

Maricopa County health officials encourage districts to communicate with parents directly about possible exposure.

Names of schools that have possible outbreaks will not be released in Maricopa County, health officials say.

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