The Chequamegon School district has reported a handful of confirmed cases of the coronavirus affecting students or staff over the past week.
District Administrator Mark Weddig on Tuesday said he could not provide a running tally of confirmed cases for risk of identifying individuals, as well as the burden it would cause administratively.
When asked to confirm if there were two cases, he said that number was “very close.”
“I can tell you that the only school that has been affected by a positive case is the high school,” Weddig wrote in response to emailed questions.
The district sent an email to enrolled families on Sept. 24 confirming at least one case had been detected but did not identify in which school until another case or cases were confirmed in a second email Sept. 27. In that email, the district identified the high school. Weddig said he decided to change the communication on the second email because he didn’t think it would put identification of the individual or individuals at risk.
“I can tell you that only one contact has been traced to the school setting, and then was quarantined,” said Weddig. “Others have been quarantined based on contact outside of school activities. This is great news for the school and community, because it means that the incredible resources and planning we put into the Roadmap for Reentry are working well, so far.”
According to a statement by the district, if a child had close contact with the confirmed case, parents will be contacted by the health department. If there was no close contact with the confirmed case, parents were not contacted.
The district is continuing with its reentry plan in the “blended phase 2” scenario, which has elementary students in school each day, but a rotation of middle and high school students on opposite days of the week and Wednesday as completely at home.
While students are in the schools, social distancing is a priority, with students eating meals six feet apart in their classrooms, or spread out in the cafeteria. The hallways are marked with one-way traffic lines and classes are staggered to keep groups of kids out of the hallways at the same time as well as rotations on the playground. Social distancing is also a priority on the school buses and masks are required.
Weddig said this detailed separation helps to break groups up to the point that if there was a positive in the school and a group of students would be deemed close contacts — within six feet of each other for 15 minutes or more — it would not affect even an entire grade, and students could continue to come to school.
“Add to this the fact that we are teaching live all day, and there is a tremendous effort taking place on sanitizing (we have spared no expense for equipment and added personnel) procedures, and I believe we are doing everything reasonable to keep this disease out of the schools,” Weddig wrote.
For the district to shift gears into an all virtual scenario, Weddig said the plan calls for a few criteria to be met. He said, for example, if the school does not have enough staff to teach anymore, or the county health officer deems the school a threat to the community, those would be causes to change the plan.
“As of right now, it is as safe as possible to send students to school due to the plan we have in place, he said. “The rest, in my opinion, is up to the community and how people behave.”
COVID-19 is an illness caused by a new coronavirus. It spreads from person to person through droplets created when we cough, sneeze, talk, sing or laugh. Most people—especially young people—who get COVID- 19 have mild illness, similar to having a cold or the flu. However, in others it can cause severe illness, such as pneumonia. Symptoms of COVID-19 include:
• Fever (temperature 100.4°F or higher)
• Trouble breathing
• Muscle/body aches
• Loss of sense of taste or smell
• Runny nose or nasal congestion
• Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
CDC website: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.
Prevent Further Spread
The following guidelines will help to prevent further spread of illness at our school:
• Notify the school if your child is diagnosed with COVID-19.
• Notify the school if your child had contact with someone who you know was diagnosed with COVID-19.
• Keep students home from school if they are sick.
• Encourage good habits: frequent handwashing, covering coughs and sneezes, use of face coverings in. public, and staying home as much as possible.