10th and 7th-grader test positive for COVID-19, both grades to undergo testing on Friday

Upper+school+nurse+Jennifer+Olson+handles+a+COVID+test+kit+on+April+23.+All+seventh+and+10th-graders+will+receive+a+Polymerase+Chain+Reaction+%28PCR%29+test+this+Friday%2C+Oct.+15.

Alysa Suleiman

Upper school nurse Jennifer Olson handles a COVID test kit on April 23. All seventh and 10th-graders will receive a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test this Friday, Oct. 15.

by Lucy Ge and Alysa Suleiman

This is a developing story. Check Harker Aquila for future updates.

A 10th-grader and a seventh-grader tested positive for COVID-19, according to emails sent from Harker Director of Health Services Debra Nott to 10th and seventh-grade parents today. 

All 10th and seventh-graders will receive a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test on Friday, Oct. 15. Sophomores should visit the nurse’s office anytime between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday to pick up a test kit and provide a sample, and parents will be notified of results by email through Saturday afternoon and Sunday. Nott did not indicate that there will be testing for other grades currently. 

This person has no symptoms and is fully immunized, so the chances of transmission at school are low,” Nott wrote in emails regarding both the 10th-grader and seventh-grader. 

Parents of students who are considered to have had “close contact” with either of the two students who tested positive have received separate emails informing them of the contact. Close contact is defined in the email as “someone who was within six feet of this person for fifteen minutes or more.” 

Current upper school policy requires masks inside, with no eating or drinking allowed indoors, while masks outside are optional. The contact tracing protocol includes seating charts in class and signing in and out of the library. During Harker Day on Saturday, Harker required attendees to wear masks both indoors and outdoors. 

Alice Tao (10) found out about the positive COVID-19 case in her grade through her parents.  She does not feel “necessarily surprised” due to the fact that in-person school has been in session since August. 

“Pretty crowded spaces [are] a little bit scary, especially since people are outside and just eating and then after that — they’re taking off their mask, eating,” Alice said.

The PSATs don’t sound any more risky than our day-to-day classes that we’ve been holding already.”

— Upper school mathematics teacher Chris Davies

As of Sept. 23, over 96% of students eligible for vaccinations have been vaccinated, according to an email sent by Head of School Brian Yager on Sept. 23. 99% of Harker faculty have also been vaccinated, and over 92% of the entire Harker staff have been vaccinated.

“I was, of course, concerned for my students’ health or family’s health, but we are vaccinated and feeling pretty protected,” said upper school mathematics teacher Chris Davies, whose daughter Laurel Davies is a sophomore. “[In regards to the COVID testing this Friday], it’s great to get pretty quick turnaround information on whether or not there’s been any sort of spread.”

Sophomores and juniors will be taking the PSAT tomorrow from 7:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. at the upper school. Freshmen will be attending Community Service Day at the Blackford campus, and seniors will be attending Senior Day from noon to 4:30 p.m. at the upper school. Distancing and masking protocols will be in place for these events.

“The PSATs don’t sound any more risky than our day-to-day classes that we’ve been holding already,” Davies said.

Harker required all students to enter their testing and vaccination registration information by Aug. 24 at Inspire Diagnostics. Administration plans to release COVID-19 data relating to the Harker community in the Parent COVID-19 protocols tile on the parent portal in the upcoming weeks.