One member of the Paly girls swim team and at least one other person on campus have tested positive for COVID-19, but the senior girls swimmer has since tested negative twice since her initial positive test on Feb. 10. Those who tested positive, as well as their close contacts, have been instructed to self-quarantine regardless of follow-up test results.
Assistant Principal Jerry Berkson sent two emails about separate COVID-19 cases, to Paly staff members on Feb. 8 and Feb. 10, informing them as to whether or not they were in close contact with one of the individuals who tested positive. “The affected individual has been isolated and their immediate family/household members, and all identified close contacts have been directed to quarantine, monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, and work with their healthcare provider to get tested as directed by the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department,” Berkson wrote.
In response to the senior’s positive test, practices were canceled for those in her swimming pod. Despite two negative tests several days later, she and close contacts are still being instructed to quarantine for 10 days.
Other swimming pods, including that of junior David Gormley, have continued practicing. Though the senior girl told teammates about her positive test through a text message to the team, the Paly Athletic Department did not formally inform swim team members and their parents of her positive test.
Athletic Director Nelson Gifford did not respond to interview requests.
Despite the lack of communication with students, Gormley said school administrators did a fine job handling the situation.
“Like any COVID case, or suspected case, it was a little frightening, but I think that the systems that were in place acted quickly responsibly and, as a result, most of us feel safe,” Gormley said. “There wasn’t officially a protocol for Paly athletics, but I think all the sensible measures were taken.”
Berkson also said that Paly handled the situation properly, as they followed the guidelines set by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.
“The COVID has to come from somewhere, so the COVID cases that happened on campus came to campus and didn’t spread anywhere from campus,” Berkson said. “I think we did a good job. These are county rules, not district rules, so our job really is to prevent the spread.”
But the female swimmer who tested positive said she felt like there wasn’t an established protocol for handling positive COVID-19 cases.
She said, “I’m still going to quarantine for 10 days just to be cautious so it doesn’t really affect me that I’m not going to go to practice. But I think for other athletes (in my pod) who want to swim and have tested negative, practices are still canceled and they had very little communication from the Athletics Department as to what’s going on.”
Girls swim coach Danny Dye also did not respond to interview requests for this story.