Report by Paula Antolini, October 15, 2020, 10:09AM EDT
On October 10, 2020 Bethel Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Christine Carver released a statement to parents, guardians and staff informing them that a member of the Johnson School community has tested positive for COVID-19.
Carver stated, “The individual was last in school since October 9, 2020. The district has continually communicated that the response to an exposure is very case specific.”
“The exposure was limited to a single class and a few additional staff members who will need to quarantine for 14 days,” Carver said, “In consultation with the Department of Public Health it has been deemed that Johnson School can remain open.”
“We have not received any other reports of any individuals who have experienced symptoms or signs of illness. The Bethel Health Department, in partnership with the district, conducted a thorough contact tracing protocol,” Carver stated.
Read more of the letter below.
We spoke to Dr. Carver and we asked many questions about the situation and school safety and notification policies, to which she replied. Please read below:
BETHEL ADVOCATE: What was the time frame to notify anyone of infection?
DR. CARVER: We notify close contacts within hours of notification through the Contact Tracing Protocols with the Department of Public Health. When the case is related to the school, we do the tracing together.
BETHEL ADVOCATE: What was the procedure to notify parents if they were minors?
DR. CARVER: We notify parents by phone if they are considered a close contact by the Department of Public Health. This phone notification allows and opportunity to speak about quarantine procedures, etc.
BETHEL ADVOCATE: Is notification immediately when you suspect infection or only after tests reveal a positive?
DR. CARVER: The schools do not notify about positive tests. We are only informed if there is a positive test.
BETHEL ADVOCATE: How is this infection relayed to you?
DR. CARVER: It was revealed to us by the infected person. This is typically how we hear about positive cases.
BETHEL ADVOCATE: How and when are tests performed, and do you need permission from parents or adults to do testing?
DR. CARVER: The schools do not do the testing. Individuals seek testing in the community through their medical doctor or through COVID – 19 testing centers.
BETHEL ADVOCATE: Do you also notify spouses or significant others, if a staff member is found to be infected?
DR. CARVER: We do not. We only notify individuals who may have been deemed as Close Contacts in the school setting. You should check with Laura Vasile about what DPH does in the notification process. I believe it happens through CT COVID Trace.
Our students have been highly compliant with ALL of the mitigation strategies while in school. The positive case at JS was not from transmission in the schools.
I am concerned that in general people have become complacent about following all of the mitigation strategies (i.e., mask wearing, social gatherings, etc.) in the community and across the state. We need to be vigilant. The many communications on our website outline ways we are trying to communicate to our families.
On our website there is extensive documentation about how we manage an exposure.
VIEW LETTER BELOW:
Dear Parents, Guardians, and Staff,
This afternoon, October 10, 2020, we were notified that a member of the Johnson School community has tested positive for COVID-19. The individual was last in school since October 9, 2020. The district has continually communicated that the response to an exposure is very case specific.
In consultation with the Bethel Department of Public Health and investigation of this specific case, the exposure was limited to a single class and a few additional staff members who will need to quarantine for 14 days. A direct exposure or close contact is an individual who is less than 6ft for 15 minutes or longer. In consultation with the Department of Public Health it has been deemed that Johnson School can remain open. We are ensuring that the routine COVID-19 cleaning and disinfecting procedures have been used, including in specified areas over the weekend.
We have not received any other reports of any individuals who have experienced symptoms or signs of illness. The Bethel Health Department, in partnership with the district, conducted a thorough contact tracing protocol.
School and health department officials have notified any staff and the parents/guardians of students who may have had the potential for close contact. If you have not had exposure or close contact with the
suspected positive case, you will not be notified. Our district protocols for a positive case are outlined in this letter.
We will continue to closely monitor the health conditions of our students and staff. We will also continue to implement all of the mitigation strategies in our reopening plan. The health and safety of all members of our school community remains our priority. We want to remind families to continue to conduct daily health screenings for symptoms before sending students to school or any extracurricular programs.
Thank you again for all of your efforts as a community. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact either Laura Vasile, Director, Dept. of Public Health at 203-794-8539 or our BPS Health Coordinator, Lisa Davenport at 203-794-8600 ext. 1262 email@example.com, or myself at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-794-8601.
Christine L. Carver, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools