So Far So Good

Trinity’s COVID response has been effective — it’s up to us to keep it that way

The 2020-2021 school year has been a tumultuous one, to say the least. However, it has gone better than many expected. At the beginning of the school year, it would have been difficult to fathom we would stay open past Labor Day. Now in March, we are still going strong and have experienced minimal outbreaks to date. While it has not been perfect, this speaks to the effectiveness of Trinity’s response to COVID-19.

 Though some may argue it is still safer to go online completely, Trinity is doing its best to provide what it considers as the best possible learning experience for students. There have been a variety of procedures in place to curb the spread of the virus, and for the most part, they have been successful, with only 37 reported positive cases as of March 1, according to Associate Head of School Dennis Herron. Yet, even this number is slightly inflated as it includes all those who tested positive, even if they never came onto campus or exposed anyone else. 

The school’s implementation of contact tracing, in particular, airs on the side of caution. For example, many athletes have gone online to avoid getting contact traced and missing games, not out of fear of actually contracting the virus. At times the contract tracing has been so extensive that large portions of various grades have been sent home, but to the best of our knowledge, the policy has been effective in curbing the spread of the virus.

“We have little evidence that there has been a significant transmission on campus,” Herron said. “I can’t say that it has never been transmitted on campus, but we have pretty good evidence that many of the cases have been an occurrence of off-campus behavior.”

In January, Trinity saw its first major uptick in case numbers, which ultimately led to the entire seventh grade being quarantined. Herron explained that there were primarily two factors that went into this decision. First, after a large number of positive cases in the seventh grade alone, the decision to quarantine the grade was made to combat the spread of the virus. Secondly, with a significant amount of the grade quarantined as a result of contract tracing anyway, a grade-wide quarantine made it easier on the teachers as well.

“When it gets up to the area of around 35 to 40% of the class being out or quarantined by us, then we’re going to be looking at [quarantining the entire grade],” Herron said.

If an outbreak like this occurs, it’s easy to point fingers and blame the school for any possible mistakes it made. However, this incident shows that if push comes to shove, the school is ready to send large numbers of students home to limit the chances of more getting infected. This seems to have worked, as the seventh grade has since returned and case numbers have subsided.

If anyone is to blame for an outbreak, it is the student body for our actions outside of school. The majority of the positive cases this school year have resulted from off-campus behavior, namely a few super-spreader events, where social distancing and appropriate measures weren’t being taken. 

“I think the school can play a part in preventing an outbreak,” sophomore Sophia Lamar said. “But at the end of the day, it’s the students who need to commit to wearing masks, do their best to stay away from other students and stay safe outside of school.”

Trinity appears to have recognized that it is impossible to control the actions of students and faculty off-campus, which is why measures have been put into place like remote days after school breaks. Granted, the online days after winter break probably didn’t do much, as two days isn’t enough time for symptoms to develop. Neither did the fact that teachers were required to get tested, but were allowed to return before the results came back. 

However, any policies that even minimally increase protection against COVID-19 and don’t take away from too much time in-person learning should be embraced. The school has also rolled out optional testing for the student body and faculty in tandem with UCF and alumna and computational biologist Pardis Sabeti. While the effectiveness of in-school testing is yet to be seen, it certainly can’t hurt. 

Ultimately, Trinity is doing all that it can to provide the most normal year possible to those who seek it. And for those who feel unsafe, or would like to be unsafe outside of school, the option to go online remains. As the school year is reaching its final months, it is everyone’s hope that we can remain open. But whether we are able to or not is up to the student body and our actions off-campus.