Some ARRSD students quarantined until Nov. 4


For The Athol Daily News
Published: 10/28/2020 9:04:21 AM
Modified: 10/28/2020 9:04:17 AM

ATHOL – It’s a safe bet some parents in Athol and Royalston are nervously watching their children for any sign their children have contracted the coronavirus. All fifth-grade students at Athol Royalston Middle School and one class of first graders from Athol Community Elementary School have been told quarantine at home until Nov. 4 due to a potential of exposure to COVID-19.

Superintendent Darcy Fernandes sent a notice to parents throughout the district last Saturday advising them that “two members of our school community have tested positive for COVID-19.”

The communication continues: Parents of student and staff members who were in close contact with the community members have been notified privately. All close contacts should be tested but must self-quarantine for 14 days after the last exposure to the person who tested positive, regardless of test results. The Department of Public Health has stated that Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, all individuals who were asked to quarantine can return to school.”

The “two members” of the school community are actually siblings who have both contracted the virus.

Because first-graders don’t alternate teachers during the course of the day, just one class of students was quarantined, rather than the entire grade level.

“The problem was,” she said, “because the teachers were in close contact with the one (fifth-grade) student who had COVID, we had to keep them all home. I would have had to have hired four subs to be in the building, and I wasn’t comfortable with that because those students would not get the same quality of education that they would from their teachers teaching remotely.”

She said there was no need to completely shut down ARMS because of the one case of COVID.

“Those teachers only teach in Grade 5,” she said, “so the people who were exposed only teach at that particular grade level, and none of them are showing signs of COVID at this moment.”

She also explained that the one first-grade class was quarantined because one of its students is a sibling of the fifth grader who has COVID. She said she was notified Saturday by a member of that student’s family that their child was sick.

“We don’t currently have any staff member identified with COVID,” added Fernandes.

The notice sent out over the weekend advised that the school department is “following all Dept. of Health protocols, including collaborating with our local board of health to complete contact tracing.”

“Additionally,” it continues, “we are asking those parents who students are tested for COVID-19 to please report the results to the school nurse. We are working hard to understand the impact of the virus on our school community and this information is a critical piece of that puzzle.

“To further prevent transmission of the virus to other staff and students, we have sanitized the school with a focus on those areas frequented by the community members…We will continue to be  vigilant in adhering to all of the protocols that have been put in place in an effort to continue in person learning.”

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