District 96 set to hire contact tracer for Riverside schools

On-call part timer would track contacts of anyone positive for COVID-19

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

By Bob Skolnik

Contributing Reporter

Running schools in the midst of a pandemic creates challenges, and a new job in at least one area school district.

Earlier this month, the Riverside Elementary School District 96 Board of Education approved hiring an on-call, part-time contact tracer to track the contacts of any student or staff member who tests positive for COVID-19.

The new employee will probably be hired at the Sept. 16 school board meeting. District 96 Superintendent Martha Ryan-Toye said that she has a person in mind for the job who already has completed a contact tracing class.

Ryan-Toye said there were no positive tests of any District 96 student or staff member during the first week of school.

"With our goal to contain the virus in every possible way, we believe this is an added support to our school nurse who will likely or could be hearing from families that have a COVID positive situation in their home," Ryan-Toye said. "In those cases we need to quarantine students and we also need to understand other contacts, other contacts with other District 96 students specifically."

Ryan-Toye said that the district is adding this position because the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), does not currently have adequate staff to immediately help the district if a student or staff member tests positive.

In the event of a positive test in the district, the contact tracer would then question the person who tested positive to find out who that person had come into contact with. Those people would likely be instructed to quarantine for 14 days to prevent the virus from spreading.

"The aim [is] to identify and isolate infected people before they spread the virus," Ryan-Toye wrote in a memo to the school board asking them to approve the position.

The contact tracer would work as needed and be paid $18 an hour and receive no benefits. The memo said that the contact tracer would probably work from two to 20 hours a week. The person who will be hired will have completed an approved contact tracing class.

In the first three days of school fewer than 10 students were turned away from in District 96 buildings because they and their parents reported symptoms consistent with COVID-19. These symptoms included such common symptoms as cough, sore throat, fever, chills, headache, shortness of breath, and muscle pain.

"Unfortunately, we had to send a small number of children home due to cold-like symptoms and stomach ache, because they could be consistent with COVID," Ryan-Toye said. "This is how the IDPH guidelines read. You really cannot have any symptoms that might be consistent with COVID and stay in school."

Love the Landmark?

Become our partner in independent community journalism

Thanks for turning to Riverside Brookfield Landmark and RBLandmark.com. We love our thousands of digital-only readers. Now though we're asking you to partner up in paying for our reporters and photographers who report this news. It had to happen, right?

On the plus side, we're giving you a simple way, and a better reason, to join in. We're now a non-profit -- Growing Community Media -- so your donation is tax deductible. And signing up for a monthly donation, or making a one-time donation, is fast and easy.

No threats from us. The news will be here. No paywalls or article countdowns. We're counting on an exquisite mix of civic enlightenment and mild shaming. Sort of like public radio.

Claim your bragging rights. Become a digital member.

Donate Now

Reader Comments

No Comments - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Facebook Connect

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Riverside and Brookfield.

MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad

Classified Ad