First confirmed Covid case in Shalhevet student this year is contained

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BP Photo Illustration by Anonymous Source

SYMPTOMS: A Shalhevet student who tested positive for Covid-19 told the Boiling Point having the virus felt like a “bad cold.”

Shalhevet’s first confirmed Covid-19 case of the school year was announced in an email sent out Oct. 19 by Chief Operating Officer Sarah Emerson to parents of 10th- and 11th-graders. 

The student tested positive that day after being exposed to family members who had contracted the virus as well.

His case was announced to the school because just five days before being tested, he took the PSAT with 10th- and 11th -graders.

In the email, the parents were told that a student had tested positive, but had not been on campus while infectious. Also, students took the PSAT while wearing masks at desks spaced apart.

Officials said no one else who took the test became ill.

For the student himself, it was a frightening surprise. He became ill but not seriously and has since returned to school. 

“It was just kind of surreal,” said the student, who wished to keep his identity private, in an interview.  “It felt crazy to me that it happened, because I had been so careful for so many months. We just got really unlucky in getting it. Part of it was fear for my whole family, because we’re sick.”

It felt crazy to me that it happened, because I had been so careful for so many months. We just got really unlucky in getting it. Part of it was fear for my whole family, because we’re sick.”

— Student who became ill after taking PSAT

According to the student, he had been practicing social distancing guidelines since the beginning of the pandemic. He said he had hung out with a friend once, but that they had been six feet apart with masks. He had not eaten out or ventured much from his house. 

Further, the student reported only having gone to Camp Firehawks once, and had never attended in-person davening. 

Interviewed while still ill, he said he felt like he had a “bad cold.” 

“Sometimes I feel really tired, sometimes my head hurts, but mostly it’s not that bad,” he said. “My first symptom was a stuffy nose, and I kind of started feeling it Sunday night and then Monday morning I felt super congested.” 

The email from Ms. Emerson said that students who took the PSAT would still be allowed on-campus and regular after-school activities would continue. 

“The student was not on campus while infectious, and therefore, the Medical Task Force recommends that Camp Firehawks and Shalhevet programming continue as normal,” she wrote. “Since there has not been a COVID exposure on Shalhevet campus, no quarantine is indicated…”

“An exposure is within six feet for longer than 15 minutes with a Covid-positive patient.”

It was the first time the school had announced student COVID-19 cases, but he was not the first student to test positive. Ms. Emerson said that over the summer and last spring there were no on-campus activities, so the school was not monitoring whether or not students had contracted the virus.

The student was not on campus while infectious, and therefore, the Medical Task Force recommends that Camp Firehawks and Shalhevet programming continue as normal.”

— Email from COO Sarah Emerson after student tested positive

The student who became ill told the Boiling Point no member of his family had prolonged symptoms or had been admitted to the hospital. He also thinks his family contracted the virus through their housekeeper. 

He has been attending in-person school since it opened, since he now has antibodies against Covid-19. He said it was “weird” now to know he most likely will not contract it even during the current spike in cases. 

“Since I was so cautious before, it’s really hard to kind of realize that I don’t have to worry about it so much anymore,” he said. 

The student also said he was unsure of exactly what guidelines they should be adhering to since recovered patients don’t know the extent of their immunity. 

“There’s also the fact that there’s so little information on how long the immunity lasts,” he said.“[It] makes it even more weird because I just don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing, how I’m supposed to be acting in general right now.”