Jon Johnson File Photo: A class at Pima Elementary school will spend the next two weeks in quarantine after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.
By Jon Johnson
PIMA – The Pima Unified School District went all year last year without having to quarantine any of its classes. This year it made it one day. The difference: no mask mandate.
On Tuesday morning, the district was notified by the Graham County Department of Health and Human Services that a staff member had tested positive for COVID-19 and that contact tracing resulted in the quarantining of one entire class.
At that point, according to Pima Superintendent Sean Rickert, the students were isolated in a classroom and their parents were called to come to be notified by the health department and pick up their students. The district then later issued a notice of the situation on its Facebook page.
“It’s unfortunate,” Rickert said. “It’s incredible that we managed to go through the whole year last year without anything like this happening and here we are, on day two, and there isn’t anything really that we aren’t doing this year that we did last year that makes a difference . . . except for the masks.”
Since neither students nor staff was wearing masks, the health department quarantined the whole class with the positive test to the staff member.
Rickert said with the new legislation to soon go into effect, the state of Arizona has regulated that schools can no longer mandate the use of masks. Some schools in Tucson and Phoenix have gone against that stance and have advised the use of masks will be mandatory.
“We’re doing everything that we can legally,” Rickert said. “But sometimes best efforts aren’t enough and you just have to accept it . . . In a situation where one or both parties are wearing a mask, it’s not considered a close contact. The only time a quarantine is required is when you have close contact with someone who has tested positive.”
The entire class will now be quarantined for the next two weeks and will be taught online from home, a practice the school has experience with after last year’s mitigation measures.
“Know that we will provide our community with information about steps we are taking,” the district’s post read. “In this case, parents were notified in a timely manner once county health determined their child was confirmed to have been in contact. We are all in this together, and we appreciate the patience and support we continue to receive from each of you.”