KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A woman stood outside of Shannondale Elementary School with an important sign for parents on Wednesday, notifying them her third-grade child tested positive for COVID-19.
Jody Hood said that she wanted to make sure other parents knew their children could be at risk for it too and encouraged them to get their children tested. The sign said, "My child has COVID. Would you like to know if your child was in class with mine on Monday?"
Hood said she just learned that her child tested positive Wednesday morning, and did not want to waste any time notifying other parents. She had been out of school on Tuesday, and she tried to contact the school to find out if there was anyone else in her class that could have tested positive for COVID-19.
She was frustrated when educators said they could not give her any information. She emailed the principal and other leaders trying to get a response. None of them had an answer, she said.
"It made me scared and worried that I had sent her into an environment without knowing if it was safe," Hood said. "We did everything we were supposed to do to keep ourselves safe, and then we're into the school year for less than three weeks, and here we are."
Hood and her husband are both vaccinated, she said. Last year, the family participated in virtual learning and practiced social distancing.
"As far as the contact tracing goes, that's why I'm here today," she said. "I want to inform other parents that my child was in school on Monday, and she tested positive today."
She said that she would have liked to know if her child had been exposed to COVID-19 and wanted to give other parents the same information.
"They had all these safety precautions in place last year, and they just threw their hands up and decided not to do anything to follow through this year," she said. "We were forced to make a decision about whether we wanted to do in-person or virtual back in April when the numbers were low, and then we were locked into that decision. Now, we have no voice."
Hood said that her child has a sore throat and a stomachache, but is otherwise doing alright. She said that she was not notified by the Knox County Health Department about any possible exposure, she said.
She said that she previously worked as an ICU nurse and has had experience caring for people with COVID-19. Her experiences as a nurse helped her realize the severity of the coronavirus, she said. She has two other children at home, and one of them is too young to get vaccinated.
She also encouraged parents to organize with other parents on social media and through KCS PASS for contact tracing efforts and to ensure their voices are heard by education leaders.
"This is a deadly virus, and we all need to take action and do our part with it," said Hood.