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Two new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Nevada County schools

Two new student cases of COVID-19 were confirmed Thursday in Nevada County schools — Nevada Union High School and Union Hill School — according to administrators.

The Nevada Union High School case, according to Superintendent Brett McFadden; is the second confirmed student case at this campus, with the first having been confirmed last Friday.

For Union Hill School, both an elementary and middle school campus, this is the first confirmed case in a student since it began the academic year in a hybrid model mid-August, according to Superintendent Andy Parsons.

Together, these mark the fifth and sixth confirmed cases at Nevada County schools since last week; other cases, all identified last week, involved a staff member at Silver Springs High School, and students at Lyman Gilmore Middle School and Grizzly Hill School.

NEVADA UNION

“We are engaging in contact tracing,” said McFadden, adding that the district made contact with Nevada County Public Health for consultation, but that they would largely be conducting the immediate contact tracing for this case on their own, led by the district’s public health-trained nurses.

McFadden said that, while Public Health personnel would normally be more closely involved in this process, they appeared to be overloaded as of Thursday afternoon “with the rising number of cases in the county.”

The county had 623 cases on Oct. 26, 672 cases on Nov. 3 and 779 on Thursday.

McFadden said the positive student in this case is symptomatic.

“Notices have gone out,” said McFadden, in reference to Nevada County Public Health protocol dictating that staff, students, and families be notified of the confirmed case.

“What little I know of this case is that it appears to be another example of people not following protocol,” said McFadden, adding — as with the campus’ first student case — that he has received information indicating a link between this case and Halloween-related activities.

UNION HILL

While Parsons declined to specify the positive student’s grade, citing concern for the student’s privacy given the low number of classes per grade, he said the case at Union Hill was within its elementary school, the first- through fifth-grade students.

He said he “sent an all-call to all … staff and parents” Thursday morning to inform them of the confirmed case.

Then, Parsons said, he contacted the positive student’s class cohort — which he approximated to include 9-12 students — as well as its teacher, asking them to quarantine. He said these students will receive instruction in a distance learning format.

He said the district’s nurses were working alongside Nevada County Public Health to confirm and notify any additional close contacts the student, who was last on campus Tuesday, may have had.

“So far, our safety protocols have worked really well,” said Parsons.

In this case, said Parsons, the student tested positive in a context unrelated to showing symptoms at school. However, he said, Union Hill has sent “a number of students” home this academic year due to potential COVID-19 symptoms including fever and headache, requesting they get tested for the virus, and had not been contacted about any positive case until this one.

He expressed concern about Nevada County’s COVID-19 “community spread” overall, saying the community getting “more COVID-weary (and) more relaxed” presents a more significant danger to the schools than the effects of students being on campus. “All the schools have been doing the same protocols, and we haven’t seen cases until last week,” he said.

Earlier this week, he contacted district staff and families by email and voicemail, urging them to remain vigilant with regards to COVID-19 transmission. “People need to take care, because it comes to the schools, and we want to keep our kids safe,” he said.

Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at vpenate@theunion.com.


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