“An abundance of caution.”
That’s the phrase used by government leaders and health professionals in advising people how to conduct themselves to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
It means “Do a lot more than you would usually think to do” because of the potentially dire consequences of doing less.
And it’s exactly what officials in the Mohonasen school district didn’t do when they failed to immediately report to county health officials that numerous district administrators, including principals and assistant principals, were exposed to someone infected with the virus during a Sept. 3 luncheon.
First off, with so much at stake with the reopening of schools planned just days away, why were so many school officials gathered in the same place at the same time for a luncheon? Couldn’t the same information been shared in a conference call or a Zoom meeting without the potential of an asymptomatic person being among those at the meeting?
Second, what, under the definition of “abundance of caution,” would have possessed school officials to think it was OK not to notify Schenectady County health officials until five days after they learned of the exposure?
The failure to report the case “immediately” was not only wrong, but it violated the district’s own reopening plan even before school reopened.
The excuse put forth by district Superintendent Shannon Shine that he thought the case was already being handled doesn’t fly here. It clearly wasn’t, and he had a responsibility to ensure that it was.
In failing to share this information with the Schenectady County Health Department, administrators unnecessarily put many others at risk and delayed the county investigation of the exposure.
The 14-day quarantine of administrators that followed (and which is still in effect) forced district officials to revert to home school instruction after the very first day of classes, a highly disruptive situation that might have been averted had the incident been reported earlier.
Add to the fact that Otsego County health officials apparently knew about the person from their county being in quarantine for a separate exposure, yet also didn’t notify Schenectady County.
What this all represented was not an abundance of caution, but an abundance of incompetence and irresponsibility.
In many places around the country, it’s that shoddy attitude that’s allowing the virus to continue to spread, sicken and kill.
This incident should serve as a warning to others. As of Tuesday, almost 6.7 million Americans had been infected with the virus and over 195,500 had died.
If that’s not enough to make everyone exercise an abundance of caution, we don’t know what is.