Over the past few weeks as school has been in session, Williamson County Schools has made hundreds of calls to families to let them know to quarantine after coming in contact with a positive coronavirus case.

However, beginning Sept. 21, the district will no longer send calls for new cases asking students or staff to self-isolate, and all communication regarding quarantining will now come from the health department.

WCS Superintendent Jason Golden said during a Sept. 17 school board work session the district will begin changing how students and staff are notified that they need to quarantine after coming in contact with a positive case.

Golden said that previously, the district would immediately call individuals on behalf of the health department to tell them to self-isolate pending contract tracing. That call would then be followed by another call from the health department after they had completed contact tracing work with a final decision as to whether an individual needs to quarantine.

“That will be the final message from the health department about quarantine—the notice that they have done their contact tracing work and they are making the determination that the individual needs to be quarantined based on the health department’s conclusions related to contact tracing,” Golden said.

Golden said the district has been working with the health department to alert individuals as quickly as possible to prevent any potential spread; however, health officials have said there is a short window of time between when a person comes in contact with a positive case and when they may be able to spread the virus.

“What we’ve learned from the health department is in their work, there’s a little bit of science behind this. There is a window of time between somebody becoming a contact to a positive case and the point at which they might be—to use my term—contagious,” Golden said. “And so the health department is actually going to use that time to do the work rather than have that initial ‘You’ve got to leave now’ reaction. That is a significant change. We’re really encouraged by that.”

Golden said the district’s initial response plan was formed because the health department did not feel it was adequately staffed to do the amount of contract tracing necessary in the short period of time; however, a recent increase in state funding has allowed the department to bring more tracers on board, Golden said. The district will still help the health department with contact tracing, but the health department will have the final say on who should quarantine.

“So, they let us know [that] because of the assistance they’ve gotten from the state, they’re ready and prepared to do that contact tracing within the window that the science says exists for those contact trace notifications,” he said.