When faced with the difficult challenges of remote learning, the Southeastern Environmental program decided to help the community one case at a time.

In the summer of 2020, Natural and Life Sciences teacher, Heather Stoddard, met with the Superintendent to discuss how to safely reopen for the new school year. While talking about future plans, the Superintendent thought of the idea to start certifying students as contact tracers. “When we were working on reopening plans this summer, I was having a conversation with the Superintendent, and he suggested, ‘why don’t you look into getting the students on COVID-19 tracing? Maybe it could turn into a co-op for them?’” said Mrs. Stoddard.

That is when it all started, as the vocational program gave the students options to enroll in a John Hopkins University course that was free at the time. Once completed, students were proud of themselves by making it through the certification and making it through all the hardships that learners have been through this year.

Contact tracers are public officials who call people to inform them that they have been in close contact with an infected person. It is their job to call people infected with contagious diseases and ask who they have been closest to for the past week or two. Then, they call the close contacts and ask them to isolate themselves from others and self-quarantine. Historically, there have always been tracers to call close contacts of a person with an infectious disease. But now, contact tracers are needed, more than ever, to limit the spread of COVID-19. This is where the Natural and Life Sciences program comes into play.

“It is a proven science that we know that contact tracing will impact and lower the number of cases in communities. And that is why it is so important for people to follow-up if they have a positive test with the Department of Public Health,” Mrs. Stoddard added.

When someone gets a call from the Department of Public Health, they need to be sure to answer. Picking up the phone can potentially end a chain of new cases in the community. Especially on a school campus, where teachers and students alike can potentially become close contacts. It is important for people to acknowledge the situation they are in and what they can do to protect the community.

By becoming certified contact tracers, students have the opportunity to get experience in the field. This could help them understand their objectives as well as help the community limit the spread. Students could keep educating themselves from what they learned in the JHU course and eventually be licensed contact tracers in the future. They can also be educators for others, and to inform them of things they can be able to do to help others. The juniors that took and passed the John Hopkins modules for contact tracing, can continue future expertise in that area, or take it as a summer job. Overall, contact tracing is a significant solution in lowering cases around the Southeastern community, and a step in the right direction towards a new normal.

About Southeastern
At Southeastern, students choose from 20 career majors in preparation for life’s challenges and opportunities. Our school combines a rigorous academic curriculum with state of the art vocational and technical studies to help students realize their full learning potential. The schedule is designed to have students alternate between academic and technical coursework. This process promotes the integration of studies and helps bridge the gap between theoretical and practical experience. The hands-on approach to learning helps connect students to education and provides the basis for life-long learning – an essential skill in today’s highly competitive global market. Upon graduation, students have the choice of furthering their education in any two or four-year institution or going directly into the workforce.

The Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical School District consists of a four-year public high school and a post-secondary technical institute. The high school offers 20 career majors to students from Brockton, East Bridgewater, Easton, Foxboro, Mansfield, Norton, Sharon, Stoughton and West Bridgewater.

To learn more about Southeastern, please visit

Written by student:  Julian Cardoso, Health Careers, Brockton