Q: How will contact tracing in schools work? And how quickly will parents be informed if their student has been exposed so their student doesn't potentially expose immunocompromised family members?

The Herald and Grand Forks Public Health are teaming up in the coming weeks to try to answer questions related to the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the Greater Grand Forks Community.

Here is Grand Forks Public Health's answer to today's question: The timeline of when individuals will be notified depends on when the NDDoH laboratory results come in. This can be dependent on the capacity of the lab.

As soon as the lab identifies a positive COVID case, the labs reports the results to the state and the case is assigned a contract tracer. The initial call to the confirmed case is attempted within an hour of being assigned and the investigation begins.

During this time it is identified who has potentially been exposed to COVID-19 and identified as a close contact. The exposure period is considered 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms or, if asymptomatic, 48 hours prior to collection of the positive test. An exposure is an individual that is within 6 feet for a cumulative of at least 15 minutes, or someone who is directly coughed on or exposed to a case’s secretions. Close contacts to a case are often friends, teammates, classmates sitting next to, in front of, or behind the case and potentially children in the same room as a case.

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The confirmed COVID-19 case is then placed on isolation for 10 days after the onset of symptoms and is fever-free for 24 hours (without fever reducing medications) and has improvement of symptoms, whichever is the longest (if no symptoms, then exclusion is 10 days after the time the test was conducted).

After the interview with the confirmed case, close contacts identified as being exposed are contacted immediately and placed on quarantine. Close contacts to a confirmed case are then quarantined (must stay home) for 14 days from their last exposure to a case.

The schools must identify an individual to work with contact tracers to identify and notify close contacts in the school setting.

Glad You Asked is a segment in the Grand Forks Herald. Do you have a locally interesting question you'd like answered? Submit it to letters@gfherald.com and we'll consider it. Be sure to put "Glad You Asked" in the subject line.