There are approximately 700 students in the Agua Fria Union High School District who have been in quarantine between Aug. 23 and the morning of Aug. 31, according to district administration.
The district of about 8,600 students did not require those exposed to COVID-19 to quarantine until Aug. 23, when the Maricopa County Department of Health instructed districts to quarantine certain individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19.
AFUHSD administration initially stated they would not release quarantine data to the public.
“Given the variety of factors to determine why and when quarantine is required, quarantine projections and data is not available and will not be released,” district spokesperson Megan Griego said via email on Aug. 26.
The district provided data on the estimated number of students in quarantine three business days after Independent Newsmedia submitted a public records request.
Student services director Tamee Gressett, emphasized that quarantine data is imperfect and ever-changing, making it difficult to provide accurate data in real time, as it does with positive COVID-19 cases.
“Our sites are extremely busy,” Gressett, said, “And for us to constantly have that accurately updated, it is very difficult.”
She also said that there’s the potential for over-reporting. For example, the district may accidentally list a fully-vaccinated student as a “close contact.” Vaccinated students exposed to COVID are not recommended for quarantine.
“We have some work to do,” Gressett, said in regards to publishing accurate quarantine numbers.
Superintendent Mark Yslas emphasized that district administration is committed to transparency. “We're...not trying to hide anything,” he said.
Yslas, who assumed the role of superintendent on July 1, said he’s willing to sit down with anyone who has questions or concerns about his policies.
“My door is open,” he said. “I will get in front of any group or any person to talk to them about what I think we should be doing for our kids.”
He said the school will be hosting in-person homecoming events, including football games and an outdoor dance.
Some students will not need to quarantine if they meet certain criteria.
Students who can provide proof of full vaccination or have tested positive for COVID during the past 90 days may immediately return to school in-person. Proof of vaccination or positive test can be submitted at http://submit.aguafria.org, according to the district announcement.
Additional guidance from the department of health states that students will not need to quarantine if they remained at least 3 feet away from a COVID-positve person, and both parties were wearing masks.
Any unvaccinated student who has had physical contact with a COVID-positive person will be required to quarantine, regardless if masks were worn, according to county health department rules.
Students who do not meet these exemptions will be required to quarantine for 10 days, but may be allowed to return after seven if they have not exhibited COVID symptoms and can provide a negative test taken a full five days from exposure.
Masks continue to be optional for students, staff and visitors, though everyone on campus is required to have a mask in their possession.
Madeline Ackley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or found on Twitter @Mkayackley.