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“Given us no choice” | Parent starts contact tracing for kid’s school

Two weeks of school and no contact tracing information available has one Knox County Schools parent unhappy.
Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 6:26 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Two weeks of school and no contact tracing information available has one Knox County Schools parent unhappy.

School Board leaders said starting Monday parents should have access to the COVID-19 Dashboard on the school system website. That was in place last school year.

But one mom has taken it upon herself to start her own contact tracing in her daughter’s fifth grade class at Beaumont Magnet Academy.

“You can make choices to prevent unintentionally infecting other people,” said Kelly Johnson, a mom to three KCS students. One of her children is a fifth grader, Eloise, at Beaumont Magnet Academy.

Johnson doesn’t blame the teachers, nurses or school administrators at the school. She’s upset with the School Board not acting sooner.

“They are doing nothing and they seem proud of it,” said Johnson.

She said Eloise wears a mask daily and hoped that would be enough. Until Johnson found out from a parent, Eloise, 10, was sitting near a student who tested positive for COVID-19.

“I’m feeling fine but kind of nervous at the same time,” said the fifth grader.

Johnson started a phone tree to inform other parents who are in her daughter’s class.

Now each grade level has a private Google Doc for Beaumont parents only. Parents can add their student’s name, a phone number, email, symptoms, and after care if they test positive or get tested.

“Now we have to share our kids’ personal health information because they’ve given us no choice.”

I talked to an attorney who explained the legalities behind this.

“If parents are voluntarily participating on behalf of their children in this program, it’s not a problem. Potentially it could be a problem however if people started posting things on the internet about who was COVID positive,” said Quentin Brogdon, a plaintiff’s personal injury trial lawyer, “Or there were communications and postings about parents and children who had not consented to be part of this, then potentially those parents could face some legal jeopardy.”

Kelly wants: “The school board needs to do their job. Lead.”

And she wants to stop COVID from spreading.

“I hope we don’t have to wait for a student or a grandparent or a teacher to die for them to pull themselves together,” said Johnson.

Eloise is set to get a COVID-19 test on Saturday since that will be five days since her exposure.

Johnson said she doesn’t want her daughter to return to school yet for her daughter’s mental and physical well-being.

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