2 more WM school staff test positive

TANNER MONDOK | Herald fileWest Middlesex Area School District has switched to online teaching for high school students after some teachers tested positive for COVID-19. Elementary students are still attending school in person.

WEST MIDDLESEX – Two elementary school employees have contracted COVID-19 at West Middlesex Area School District while test results are pending on two other elementary school workers who have exhibited symptoms.

In an email Tuesday to parents, West Middlesex Superintendent Raymond Omer said the district’s elementary school schedule will remain unchanged. The school district has already shifted high school students to all-remote learning until at least Nov. 5.

A message left for Omer late Tuesday afternoon wasn’t immediately returned.

“After collecting information and notifying additional individuals, including students, defined to be close contacts requiring quarantine, we concluded that the school schedule will remain unchanged at the moment and no further action is necessary,’’ Omer said in the email. “We will continue to gather information as it becomes available and make adjustments as needed.’’

The superintendent said West Middlesex’ s pandemic instructional model is intended keep students safe and to minimize contacts while under teachers’ supervision.

Omer didn’t say in the email how many district staff or students are being quarantined. The correspondence did remind parents that they may need to find supervision for elementary-age students attending classes from home.

On Thursday the district sent high school students go to remote learning after a teacher tested positive for COVID-19. In an earlier email, Omer said contact tracing indicated that other teachers and “a small number of students” had close contact with the affected teacher.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a 14-day quarantine for anyone who comes into close contact with someone infected with COVID-19. The CDC defines “close contact” as being within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes of someone with coronavirus.

Recommendations from the state departments of Health and Education don’t call for schools to adopt remote learning if a single student or teacher contracts COVID-19. But since a large number of teachers had to be placed in quarantine and couldn’t be in classrooms, Omer said the district decided to have all-remote learning. He didn’t say how many teachers were in quarantine in the Thursday email.

State departments of Health and Education guidelines call for closing school buildings for three to five days if two to four people — either students or teachers, or 5% of the total number of students or staff — in a single school building test positive for COVID-19 in a 14-day period.

Omer’s email didn’t say where the affected employees work.

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