TOWER- The Vermilion Country School has shifted to distance learning for a two-week period after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.The staff member started feeling ill and left midday on …
TOWER- The Vermilion Country School has shifted to distance learning for a two-week period after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.
The staff member started feeling ill and left midday on Wednesday, Oct. 7. They were subsequently tested and received a positive diagnosis on Friday. A second staff member was informed on Wednesday that a family member had tested positive, so they left to quarantine at home. That staff member has tested negative.
“Because our kids move throughout the building all day,” said school administrator Frank Zobitz, “it is impossible to say who had contact with the teacher and who didn’t.”
Zobitz said the Minnesota Department of Health is recommending that all staff and students be tested for COVID-19 even if no symptoms are present, and to isolate at home if they test positive.
“If the test results are positive, follow recommendations for cases of COVID-19. If students or staff start feeling ill, isolate at home and away from other household members as much as possible right away. The main symptoms to watch for are fever, cough, difficulty breathing, muscle aches, feeling tired, loss of taste or smell and diarrhea and vomiting,” Zobitz wrote in a letter home to students and their families.
Two VCS transportation drivers who had no contact with the staffer who tested positive will be delivering/picking up school work, as well as meals for students, while the distance learning shift is in place.
Teachers and staff have been working from home while in quarantine, including the staff person who tested positive. During the first few weeks of school, teachers and students worked on the skills they would need if and when the school had to shift to distance learning.
The school has been thoroughly cleaned. Senior dining carry-out meals are still available while the building is closed.
The school is set to reopen on Thursday, Oct. 21. School was not scheduled to be in session on Oct. 15-16 for MEA weekend, so only eight school days were switched to distance learning. The school also had switched to distance learning for a week earlier this fall when two staff members fell ill with symptoms of what might have been COVID-19, but then both staff tested negative and in-person classes resumed.
“Once school resumes,” said Zobitz, “there will be an increased focus on safety measures. This drives the point home. We need to be washing hands, wearing masks, and social distancing.”