COVID-19 cases see slight increase in Rockwood, St. Louis County


Amber Yin

In Honors Chemistry, sophomores Lucas Brown, Neel Chandra and Jonathan Sair work on an assignment. The amount of COVID-19 cases in the Rockwood School District have been increasing every week since May 2, and just started decreasing on May 23.

Vijay Viswanathan

The Rockwood School District has been mask-recommended since the beginning of February. While COVID-19 cases have been generally low, there has been a recent uptick in cases. 

As of May 26, Rockwood has 84 positive COVID-19 cases, which is well under the 4% benchmark of 1025 cases for mitigation strategies to come back into effect. Lafayette currently has ten positive COVID-19 cases, which is also well below the 4% benchmark of 77 cases.

However, some schools in the area, like Parkway Central High School, were warned on May 3 by the Parkway School District that the school was approaching the 2% benchmark set by Parkway. 

While the district and Lafayette report relatively low case numbers, some students are still deciding to mask up, like sophomore Keira Makalintal. 

“First of all, I’m a germaphobe. I feel like [a mask] protects you from things like COVID-19 and the flu. I also have relatives who are immunocompromised and [because of that] I don’t think it’s much of an inconvenience to keep wearing [a mask],” Makalintal said.

Amy Wehr, supervisor of Rockwood Wellness and Services, said even though the district has been mask-recommended rather than reuired since February, other mitigation measures have enabled the district to keep case numbers low. 

“I know some people are still wearing them. Anytime there is suspicion that there’s been a positive case in a classroom, there’s going to be extra cleaning. [The two most important things are to] encourage people to wash their hands and to stay home if they’re sick. That’s really important,” Wehr said. 

The recent bump in COVID-19 cases has correlated with allergy season. One of the only ways to tell the difference between allergies and COVID-19 is to get tested for COVID-19 or to try and treat allergies.

“I know this time of year, it’s really hard to know for sure if [symptoms] are COVID-like symptoms or just seasonal allergies. But, we’re working with parents and families to say ‘hey, [if your child] feels better with the treatment of allergy medications,’ then that’s a good indication that it’s allergy-related,” Wehr said. 

Wehr is unsure whether the next year will include any COVID-19 regulations. 

“I have not been included in any discussions about the potential for returning for masking or what we’re doing for next year. My guess is that we’re waiting for our new superintendent to weigh in and to see where we are,” Wehr said. 

She also said that the extensive cleaning procedures placed into effect with the Rockwood Safe Together plan will remain, even after the Safe Together plan is over.  Under the Safe Together plan, all buildings are disinfected nightly, especially on high-touch surfaces.

She also reflected on successes under the Rockwood Safe Together Plan.

“We had a full school year and we didn’t shut down any buildings. That’s certainly a big jump in the right direction compared to last school year, where we started late because of COVID-19. [You had] in-person learning with your friends,” Wehr said.

Wehr also gave some advice for people during the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases.

“I think that this is just going to be a new way of life for us. If you have health issues, concerns about your immune system, etc., you need to be cautious about where you go, but that’s also been the case for flu season as well,” Wehr said. “If you’re going to a concert indoors, that’s probably going to be riskier than dinner outside at your friend’s house on the back patio. You just have to make those decisions for yourself.”