Two more Vermont schools with COVID-19 cases

Published: Sep. 14, 2020 at 5:34 PM EDT
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HARTFORD, Vt. (WCAX) - Parents in two more Vermont school districts were notified over the weekend that students tested positive for the coronavirus. But, the districts are taking a different approach when it comes to their response.

Sunday afternoon, the Hartford School District notified parents that a high school student had tested positive for COVID-19. The letter stated that the district was fully cooperating with the Vermont Department of Health. Monday, on-site learning was back in session there.

“We isolated it very well, we were able to clean thoroughly. We feel comfortable that we can go forward at this time,” said Hartford Superintendent Tom DeBalsi.

DeBalsi says the safety of the students in the Hartford school district is his number one priority. Saturday, after being notified of the positive test, the school’s COVID-19 action plan went into effect. Debalsi says that plan is working.

“We were surprised that a case came up so soon but we have been preparing for this, as all Vermont school have been preparing all summer, so we had a plan of how we would handle it,” he said.

But some parents in the district were not surprised at all.

“We weren’t going to take that chance,” said Peggy George.

Peggy and her husband, Franklin George, made the decision to go fully remote with their two 10th-graders several months ago. They both have pre-existing conditions and elderly family members nearby.

“I still have to venture out for medical appointments, I still have to go to the pharmacy, we still have to go to the store, unfortunately, and the more cases that are in this area, the bigger risk that puts us in,” Peggy said.

Sixty miles away in Duxbury, parents were also notified over the weekend that two kids tested positive at the Crossett Brook Middle School. That school is closed for in-person learning for the entire week. We wanted to ask the superintendent why but she told us she was not doing interviews. In a letter to parents, she wrote: “Our approach will be the most conservative possible while balancing safety with keeping schools open. We ask for your patience. With your participation, we believe we can continue to provide a safe and positive learning experience.”

The Georges say it’s better to err on the side of caution.

“Even though we are fairly spread out, we are a tight-knit community, I would think, I would hope, and that what affects one should affect everybody. Especially with something as serious as this virus,” Franklin George said.

It’s not known how many of the kids contracted the virus. Contact tracing is underway in both communities.

“I hope the child makes a full recovery and I hope their family is OK,” Franklin said.

Because of privacy laws, the names of the students are not being released. Both superintendents say they will be communicating with parents if and when updates are necessary.

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