Bridget Gates took job as district’s first Covid-19 coordinator as she sought ways to help stop virus


Bridget Gates worked as a county Covid-19 contact tracer before she was hired as the Pelham school district’s first part-time Covid-19 coordinator.

“When I was watching the Covid pandemic unfold, and I saw how quick and devastating it was to our society and societies around the world, I thought that I’d like to do my part, and I asked myself if there was anything I could do to help stop the spread of Covid-19 and educate people about it,” said Gates.

As the district’s Covid-19 coordinator, Gates started a new testing program. The goal of the program is to identify asymptomatic cases. Each person registered for the program submits a vial of their saliva weekly on Monday morning, and the samples are analyzed overnight by the C-19 Safety First Mount Sinai School Testing Program. This program is funded by the government in partnership with the local health department and BOCES. If any of the results come back positive, Gates has the infected person stay home. She then finds out if there were any close contacts the person had with others and notifies the Westchester Health Department, which handles quarantine notifications.

Gates said that about 500 people are registered for the voluntary program, and it has been very successful in the first few months of school.

Previously, Assistant Superintendent Julia Chung was doing the work the Covid-19 coordinator now handles. The job was posted in August. Gates has a degree from St. John’s University and became a contact tracer for the health department in November 2020.

Gates is responsible for having a record of all fully vaccinated staff and students, in case of a situation where some people may need to quarantine. She also registers new people for testing and makes sure that everyone has a test kit. Unvaccinated staff and high-risk athletes must submit weekly Covid tests, she said.

“I feel that all of the administration members, including teachers, are doing a great job of making sure everyone is wearing their masks properly, and that they are separated, so that we don’t have a situation where the virus is spread,” said Gates. “Everyone should take this seriously. Covid is still spreading, and we still need to make sure that we’re following social distancing guidelines to keep ourselves, our families and community safe.”