Four schools report COVID-19 in students or staff last week
Four new cases of COVID-19 were reported in county schools last week.
“The whole goal is, once you identify (a case), making sure it does not spread from the school, and at this point we believe we have mitigated that and been successful,” Superintendent of Schools Scott Lay said Monday.
Twin Ridges Elementary School District released a letter Friday announcing all in-person instruction at their Grizzly Hill campus would be halted for two full weeks — to resume Nov. 23 and 24 for Cohort A and B, respectively — “to allow students and staff to be tested and to avoid any spread of the virus.”
In the letter, Superintendent Melissa Madigan said that “only a few students had possible close contact” due to on-campus requirements that students be seated distanced from one another, wear masks, and use provided hand sanitizer when entering or exiting a classroom. Nevada County Public Health, she wrote, would be contacting the families it deems necessary, in accordance with state and county COVID-19 exposure protocols.
Madigan said Monday, as the campus shifted back into remote instruction, that the district had returned to campus Oct. 26, two weeks prior.
Silver Springs High School, according to Superintendent Brett McFadden, reported Thursday that a member of its staff had tested positive for COVID-19. Nevada Union High School, in the same district, confirmed its first student case Friday.
McFadden said that, in both cases, the district followed protocol created by Nevada County Public Health — identifying the positive individuals’ close contacts, contacting these people to request they isolate and get tested for the virus, and alerting district staff, students, and families.
McFadden said Friday he did not anticipate school closures, nor “a lot of students and staff … endangered” as a result of these cases, saying that to his knowledge, the measures set in place at the campuses have been effective in preventing on-campus spread.
A letter emailed to The Union, apparently written Friday by Lyman Gilmore Middle School Principal Lisa Lawell, states that a student who had last been on campus Nov. 2 tested positive for COVID-19.
“We have been working closely with Nevada County Public Health and anyone with close contacts from our campus has already been directly communicated with,” the letter states.
When asked for confirmation of a student case at Lyman Gilmore, Superintendent Andrew Withers declined to comment, citing “HIPAA laws and the privacy of staff and students” in an email Friday. When asked if the school’s families and students had been alerted as to any COVID-19 case, an employee of the district confirmed Monday a letter on the matter had been sent to district families last week, but said the district would not make the letter available outside of those families.
Lay said he, alongside Nevada County Public Health, has been working closely with the three districts after receiving report of these four new cases Friday. When asked if he is looking toward any change in recommended protocol for Nevada County schools in response to the county’s accelerating case count — over a month passed between the county surpassing 500 total cases and surpassing 600, according to the county Coronavirus Dashboard, and it then took 19 days to accumulate 125 more — he said he is not.
“I believe our protocols are very good — the problem we’re having is the spread coming from outside into the schools, and that is something we can’t do anything about,” said Lay, adding that he does not expect changes in protocol to be necessary within the schools even if the county moves back into the red, or “substantial,” tier on the statewide COVID-19 risk scale, as officials cautioned last week could occur.
“Schools do not need to close,” he said. “We still feel we have all the procedures in place in the protocols to cover this, and we’re watching very, very closely.”
Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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