School is now in session at Washington and North Daviess and it is already impacting the delivery of education, with the first student case of COVID-19 being reported in Washington.
“We have had our first positive case reported at the high school,” said Washington Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Roach. “We are now following the health department protocols.”
Those protocols were laid out before school began as part of a plan on dealing with the pandemic.
“The health department is conducting contact tracing and identifying as many of the students who may have been in close contact with the COVID infected student,” said Roach. “Those students will be placed in isolation for 10 to 14 days until they are medically cleared to return to school.”
School officials say a handful of students have been placed on isolation as a result of the single case.
“We now have those students set up to take online classes,” said Roach. “They will continue that way until they can return to class.”
Roach says that neither the school system or the health department are making mass notices when a COVID case shows up in school.
“We don’t want the parents to panic,” said Roach. “Everyone is following the guidelines. If they have not been notified there is no need to panic. The health department is just following the protocols to identify those who are in close contact. They have a better handle on this.”
Roach says that none of the students placed on isolation were showing symptoms of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, at North Daviess, the coronavirus is impacting school in a different way.
“We have not had any positive COVID-19 cases at school yet,” said North Daviess Superintendent Jodi Berry. “We do have about 15 kids that have been put on isolation because contact tracing had them close to someone with the virus.”
She says the COVID exposure for the students, who are mostly high school age, predates the opening of the school year.
“Some of them were in isolation before school started,” said Berry. “Barring any health issues popping up we expect most of them to return to school next week.”
In the meantime, those students are receiving distance education.
“They are not allowed in the buildings,” she said. “Most of them are starting the year with e-Learning.”
Berry says the isolation cases have thrown another challenge at the school.
“I can’t tell you how well our teachers and our school nurses have handled this,” said Berry. “The nurses have been working very closely with the health department. I really appreciate everyone’s patience on this.”
The Daviess County Health Department issued this statement on its Facebook page concerning school COVID cases and isolation. That statement reads,”The Daviess County Health Department wishes to convey the following message to the families of children in area schools:
The Daviess County Health Department will only notify those students who have had direct close contact with a confirmed positive person.
A close contact is someone who has been within 6 feet for longer than 15 minutes with or without a mask to the confirmed positive person.
The Health Department along with your school will conduct the contact tracing. After the initial notification by the Health Department to those who are found to be a close contact, the school and/or the Daviess County Health Department with follow up with additional information.
If your child was not a close contact, you will not be notified and you and your child will not need to isolate.”
The Daviess County Health Department reports the county has now had 317 positive cases of COVID-19. That is 21 new cases in the past week. The number of deaths as a result of the disease remains at 20.