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COVID keeps kids home from several Vermont schools

Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 5:53 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 31, 2021 at 7:59 AM EDT
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - School began less than a week ago for some Vermont students and WCAX News has learned of multiple schools that have already confirmed positive COVID cases sending students home.

At this time, the Vermont Department of Health does not consider any of the cases an outbreak. Instead, they’re using the term situation.

There are four known cases at Twinfield Union School in Marshfield, according to Superintendent Mark Tucker -- two kindergarten students, one second-grader, and one sixth-grader. The school was alerted on Friday about the sixth-grader and learned about the other three cases over the weekend. The entire kindergarten, second, and sixth-grade classes are quarantining and will not return to school until next Tuesday at the earliest.

But because Tucker says the cases stem from outside of school, they took extra precautions. Grades one, three, four and five did not go to school Monday either while contact tracing is being done but they will be back in class on Tuesday.

In total, that is about 140 students staying home for what should have been their third day of school.

“We were hoping to get at least a brief reprieve with having all the kids in school and we’re surprised and disappointed that we’re dealing with this in the first week of the new school year,” said Tucker, the superintendent of the Caledonia Central Supervisory Union.

Another school, the St. Albans Town Educational Center, part of the Maple Run School District, has already had one positive case in the district, but school leaders say they are sticking to their course.

Superintendent Bill Kimball says that classes with a positive case will be learning from home for at least a week. Students that get tested by this Friday can be back in school by Tuesday.

In the meantime, according to an email obtained by WCAX, students will be given work by teachers to be complete by students if they can.

Kimball says with COVID in the community, there is always a chance the virus can make it into the buildings, but after finishing the year strong last year, he says they can find success this year as well.

“You can see the case counts now compared to April and throughout the winter, and we are pretty high right now and we had cases in schools at that point as well. We are not going to, we don’t like to do a rapid reaction to any one event that happens we like to do an after-action review,” said Kimball.

That after-action plan comes once more test results come back and they determine if there was any spread because of the single case. They say plans were in place for this type of situation.

Kimball says contact tracing is still a go this year, and they had practice at it last year, so they feel prepared to meet the communities needs in alerting folks of transmission.

East Montpelier Elementary School is also going remote for the rest of the week after two positive cases, according to WCUUSD.

The Vermont Department of Health tells us there are about two dozen active situations associated with schools and child cares.

Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine and the Agency of Education will address school-related cases at Tuesday’s press briefing with Gov. Phil Scott.

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