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A surge of COVID cases impacts Denair Unified
Denair football
The Denair High varsity and JV football players are in quarantine after three players tested positive for COVID last week. The situation forced the Coyotes to cancel two games already (Journal file photo).

A significant number of students in the Denair Unified School District have had to quarantine due to COVID-19. Among those affected this week are 165 students at Denair Elementary Charter Academy who are quarantined because of an exposure to a single person who tested positive for COVID. The impact also was felt at Denair High School, where 82 students are in quarantine, including the entire varsity and junior varsity football and volleyball teams. The district also has 11 staff members who are quarantining.

“Last week we had a couple of big exposures … and it resulted in a lot of people having to go into quarantine, either modified or at home,” said Superintendent Terry Metzger. “It feels like that was a wake-up call for our community. ‘Oh, OK. So, what do we do now?’”

School officials found themselves having to explain how quarantining works to concerned parents and develop a frequently asked questions page on the district’s website.

The district states that vaccinated students exposed to someone with COVID do not need to quarantine unless they show symptoms. Unvaccinated students who are masked at the time of exposure to a confirmed positive may qualify for a modified quarantine. This means the student may come to school as long as they are not symptomatic, wear a mask at all times, avoid groups/maintain physical distance and do not participate in sports or activities. Students on modified quarantine may be contagious even if they don't have symptoms so they need to be cautious around others. Students on modified quarantine typically are tested twice during a modified eight-day quarantine. Unvaccinated students who were unmasked at the time of exposure, or who are showing any symptoms, must quarantine at home for at least eight days and test negative twice for COVID. Class assignments will be sent to them via packets or links to online lessons.

“People clearly are not understanding what modified quarantine means,” Metzger said. “Essentially, the message I want to get out is this: If your child is exposed and they’re not vaccinated, they are ordered to quarantine. Even if they come to school, they have to isolate from others. That means keeping their distance from others, including at lunch, and not participating in extracurricular activities.”

She also warned parents that not all students are asymptomatic and families are also in danger of falling ill.

“It’s not true that everyone is asymptomatic; some kids are getting very sick. Some families are very sick. That’s concerning,” Metzger said. “We know that we’ve had adults and kids who have been hospitalized, had to go to the emergency room or get breathing treatments.”

The varsity and JV football players are in quarantine after three players tested positive for COVID last week. The situation forced the Coyotes to cancel two games; last Saturday’s road contest against George Washington High in San Francisco as well as this Friday’s Southern League home opener against Ripon Christian.

Head coach Anthony Armas admitted it’s easy to become frustrated with the circumstances. He said it’s the “most difficult thing I’ve ever dealt with” in seven years as a coach.

“But at the same time, we try to keep a positive attitude,” he said. “We talked to the kids. We’ve told them ever since the start of last year that it's the situation, the hand we’ve been dealt, so make the best of it. What happens, we’ll deal with it, just keep moving forward. The kids are frustrated, too. It’s a tough life lesson.”