By MIKE FORSTER ROTHBART • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
To date, there have been 16 confirmed COVID cases at the high school since the state began tracking the data last September.
“The families of all 30 students received a phone call from the school nurse and the involved students and staff have been sent home. We will continue to follow contact tracing protocols and communicate as needed,” the emailed letter read.The school uses attendance records and student schedules to efficiently trace contacts whenever a positive case is identified. All students and teachers exposed to the COVID-positive student were identified Friday morning and will quarantine for ten days, explained a high school staff member who asked not to be identified. As long as they remain asymptomatic, they will not need a test before returning to school.
Regular cleaning practices are already in place to prevent COVID from spreading indirectly through the building. Classroom desks are sanitized between every class, and janitors do a deeper cleaning each night.
“You never know when anyone’s gonna be positive, until after the fact,” the staff member said.
Where closure of a potentially contaminated area is impractical, the area will be immediately cleaned and sanitized by custodial staff utilizing appropriate PPE, according to an updated COVID-19 policy on the district website. When possible, the district closes off potential contamination areas for a 24-hour period.
To date, the infection rate among minors has been half the rate of the public in the county, though there is a variation between school districts. Since the pandemic began, 3.6% of students in the Oneonta school district have tested positive at some point for coronavirus, while Cooperstown has had 3.3% of youth ages 5 to 17 infected, including more than a dozen students who live in Cooperstown but don’t attend the public schools.
Schenevus schools have the highest cumulative rate of infection in the county at 4%, followed by Richfield Springs and Morris, according to the New York State Department of Health, which tracks student and staff numbers for every school. Laurens has had the lowest rate of COVID cases, with just three positive cases reported among minor residents, about 1% of the enrollment at Laurens Central School.