Westport establishes hotline, exposure notifications to track Covid-19


Photo by Audrey Kercher '23

The exposure notification option in settings is available on both apple and android phones in Connecticut. When enabled, the service tracks if people have been exposed to others that have Covid-19 through logging any phone that comes within six feet. If someone with this service tests positive for Covid-19, they enter it into their phone and the exposure notifications send a message to phones that have come within six feet of the positive person.

Audrey Kercher '23, Staff Writer

Superintendent Thomas Scarice set up a coronavirus hotline and email address on Nov. 10 to report new cases. Additionally, exposure notifications were enabled on Nov. 13 to track exposure.

“Should your child obtain a positive test result for COVID-19, it is critical that the district is notified immediately. To assist with this process the administration has established a dedicated email and a dedicated voicemail for parents to communicate positive results,” Scarice wrote on the Staples High School Website

Furthermore, Scarice explained that if the student tests positive, the parent of the student should call the hotline or write an email with information including the student’s name, grade, school and the day they were confirmed positive.

The establishment of the hotline and exposure notifications came shortly after approximately 350 students and 44 faculty members had been put into quarantine. As a result, Westport transitioned from a code orange town to a “code red” town on Nov. 12

The exposure notifications are new as well to Connecticut. 

The app uses Bluetooth to determine if a user’s device moves within six feet of someone who has tested positive for the virus for a total of 15 minutes or more in a day,” NBC News CT said.

Meredith Mulhern ’23, a student at Staples High School, doesn’t have exposure notifications enabled on her phone, but believes that the system can be helpful if used correctly.

 “I think it could be a good idea, but I’m not really sure how it works. I don’t know how accurate it is, and not everyone has it turned on,” Mulhern said. 

Mulhern holds a common view with other students in the school like Emma Coleman ’21

“[Westport Public Schools] need to advertise this reporting service more or, at the minimum, send out an email providing information about how we can use it,” Coleman said. “If they did this, I believe that reporting cases would be much more efficient and therefore keep everyone safer.” 

Westport parent, Athina Meehan, also believes that the hotline system has potential.

“I think it’s more efficient to have all cases reported in one spot,” Meehan said.  “So long as everyone is aware of [the Covid-19 hotline’s] existence and uses it.”