A walk through the Cobb County School District’s Infectious Disease Reporting Protocol

coronavirus imposed on Cobb County School District signagePhoto by Larry Johnson composited with public domain image from the CDC (created by LFJ)

The Courier recently requested a copy of the documents or memos given to schools within the Cobb County School District explaining how to report incidences of COVID-19. Our purpose was to learn how the district gathers the data for their weekly case report.

The district provided us with three documents: Infectious Disease Reporting Protocol, Notifiable Disease Condition Reporting, and COVID-19 Pandemic Safety Guidance for Employees.

The first document, Infectious Disease Reporting Protocol, provides a step-by-step description of the reporting process, and that’s the one we’ll focus on in this article.

In the first paragraph the document gives the top level reporting view, and states that school personnel will contact the Nursing Supervisor, who in the Cobb County School District is Melanie Key Bales, MSN, RN, CMS, and she will report the case to Cobb & Douglas Public Health.

The document then outlines the procedures at the school level.

  1. “When any school staff member becomes aware that a student or staff member has or may have an infectious disease, he/she shall report that information to the Principal and School Nurse immediately.”
  2. “The School Nurse will determine if the infectious disease is one that should be reported to the Consulting Nurse and Supervisor of School Health Services. The information provided to the School Nurse, Consulting Nurse, and Supervisor of School Health Services by the school staff member should, at a minimum, include the student’s directory information as defined in Administrative Rule JR-R (Student Records)”

The document then describes what the Supervisor of School Health Services and school principal should do.

“The Supervisor of School Health Services shall then notify Cobb and Douglas Public Health Department. Immediately following, the Supervisor of School Health Services will contact the District’s Chief of Staff.”

The steps in the report by the principal are described as follows:

  1. “One the School Nurse determines if the infectious disease is one that should be reported, and communicated such to the Principal, the Principal shall then report the information to the appropriate Level Assistant Superintendent.”
  2. The Level Assistant Superintendent shall contact the Chief Leadership Officer regarding the confirmed infectious disease.”

Notification of parents

The document describes the notification process as follows:

If the public health nurse confirms an infectious disease (based on lab confirmation) an appropriate notification letter to the parents/guardians/students of the affected student population should be e-mailed to the Principal by the Supervisor of School Health Services. The letter should be printed on school letterhead and signed by the Principal. The letter shall not contain any personally identifiable information about the students who are or were infected. Copies should be distributed to identified students or their parents/guardians based upon the contact and mode of transmission of the illness. A copy of the letter distributed to the students should also be sent to the District Communications Office, the Level Assistant Superintendant, the School Nurse, the Consulting Nurse and the Supervisor of School Health Services.