Stowe schools put COVID-19 protocols to the test

Published: Sep. 11, 2020 at 6:38 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 11, 2020 at 6:46 PM EDT
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STOWE, Vt. (WCAX) - The end of this first back-to-school week, and one district is putting its pandemic protocols to the test. Students in all three Stowe schools may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

Students and community members say while the situation is a reminder to be cautious, it’s not a reason to be concerned. They say by getting students back in the classroom, it was inevitable. “Something like this was bound to happen. Although, we are in a small, rural town,” said Daniel Lyden, a Stowe High School senior.

He says he and his friends have been brought down to earth by dangers they say felt like a world away. “Makes you think about it a little more, being a little bit safer. I think it’ll make the students step back a bit,” Lyden said. “Maybe I’d hang out with a group of my friends, and we were a little bit closer than we should have been, so I think now we’ll be a little more distant.”

It’s a lesson they learned when the Lamoille South Unified Union School District sent out a letter Thursday announcing students and staff in the high school, middle school, and elementary school may all have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

“No members of the Stowe school community have tested positive -- no students, no employees, no immediate family members, that we know of,” said Lamoille South Unified Union School District Superintendent Tracy Wrend.

But out of an abundance of caution, Wrend says officials quickly isolated the people and referred them to their health care providers for guidance. The facilities teams also disinfected all spaces potentially exposed to the virus.

Wrend wouldn’t say how many people are involved. “We want to extend to them our care, our support, our appreciation for their coming forward and working with us in this process,” she said.

It’s a process Wrend says proved successful. Now, those people are quarantining and can’t come to school for 14-days, or seven days with a negative COVID-19 test. In the meantime, those students will be taught remotely. Classes have continued as planned and she says the district is counting on their honest communication as contact tracing commences. “We are working cooperatively with a system of trust,” Wrend said.

Students like Lyden say they hope once the obstacle is overcome, setbacks won’t become a recurring problem. “I was excited to take a step forward from the virtual learning and go back to school to see my friends, so I’m just a little nervous that the school might go back online, which would be a little frustrating as a student. I definitely learn better in the classroom,” he said.

Wrend says the big takeaway from this situation is the pandemic protocols in place worked. She says she hopes this school district will be an example that it’s possible to navigate the complications of getting kids back in the classroom without interrupting learning.

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