Contact Tracing — What is it, and why can’t we do it better?

Amanda Amadi-Emina, Journalist

Coming back to school after almost a year and a half of google meet codes and PowerPoint science labs has posed a lot of questions and confusion for parents, students, and school staff alike.

How do we get people to keep their masks on? Will we be okay? What the heck is a “contact tracing”?

In the simplest forms, contact tracing, in the context of public health, is gathering information on people who have come in contact with an infected person, and informing them and other possibly infected people.

But Carver Center’s approach to this method has been…confusing, to say the least. The new school year introduced lines dividing our hallways, forms sitting on cafeteria tables, and stairs limited to a single direction, all in the name of contact tracing. Before this year, many students didn’t even know the meaning of this word. Now a term once used in serious health conversations has become the punchline of every joke in our schools halls.

“Contact tracing!” A student tells a friend who has brushed past them, voice mockingly wary.

It all comes down to inconsistency. Most of these rules in place make sense on paper, but other factors lead people to question their validity. While some teachers space students out, carefully planning seating charts and flinching at slight movements, others encourage flitting back and forth between seats. Administrators patrol stairwells, making sure no one dares to go down the up stairs. Meanwhile, kids are spilling over bus seats into the aisles in the afternoons.

The cafeteria seating forms are pretty helpful though! But why aren’t they available for those sitting outside? Does Carver Center’s grass have secret Covid-fighting agents? Someone phone the CDC!

And the stairs. The stairs. They pose more of an issue than a help, making students late and hallways crowded.

We’re off to a great start, but we could always do better. We need to better. To build trust, promote safety, and finally escape this nightmare of a pandemic.