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High School Student Tests Positive for COVID-19

District Takes Quick Action In Response to Incident
• School District Very Confident Situation Does Not Represent a Cluster Outbreak
• No change in Educational Plan Underway at School District
 
by Robert Stewart
 
The Groton-Dunstable School District announced late last week that a student at the high school had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The case brought a quick response from the School District which had planned for such an incident when they developed their school opening plan. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Laura Chesson said parents in the District whose children were in close contact with the affected student were notified privately within three hours after learning of the test results.
     Parents with students in the general school community were notified of the incident by letter and assured that their child was not among the students who were in close contact with the affected student.
     Dr. Chesson said the School District had planned for just this type of situation when they developed their school opening plan last August. She said the affected student must quarantine for at least 10 days and that students who were in close contact with the affected student must quarantine for 14 days. The School District also provided families whose children were in close contact with the affected student the location of testing sites where they could have their child tested for COVID-19. Dr. Chesson said the high school underwent a sanitizing process with a particular focus on the areas that were frequented by the affected student.
     Dr. Chesson said that the one case of positivity of a student does not change the School District’s educational plan that is entering its third week since schools opened on Sep. 16. That plan included a fully remote option for learning or a hybrid option where students receive in-person learning from two to four days a week. Dr. Chesson said that students and families who were contacted privately because of close contact with the affected student would continue their learning while in quarantine through a fully remote option to provide continuity with their instruction and maintain an emotional connection to the classroom.
     Dr. Chesson noted that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) does not recommend that school districts change their learning plans unless certain conditions exist. DESE recommends that school districts use three weeks of data before considering any change in learning plans. And, those three weeks of data would have to encompass a period when a community has been designated as a “Red” zone which means the number of positive COVID-19 cases are at a high level. The towns of Groton and Dunstable are currently “Unshaded” which means they are amongst the safest communities in the state in regards to number of cases of COVID-19.
     Dr. Chesson indicated it was unlikely that one case of COVID-19 would move the town from an unshaded designation to red designation. Dr. Chesson stated, ”We have consulted with the Nashoba Boards of Health and they have agreed that we have a solid plan to take the appropriate steps to keep our students and staff safe...We have no reason to believe that this is the beginning of a cluster of positive cases at this time.”
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