EASTHAM — The fifth-grade class at Eastham Elementary School will be quarantined for 14 days and educated remotely after a student tested positive for Covid-19 last week.
Principal William Crosby sent a message to fifth-grade parents on Saturday, Oct. 17, telling them, “Your child has been a close contact with an individual who has tested positive…. Due to the fact that your child’s entire class will be out of school for 14 days, we will transition your child’s class to a remote teaching and learning model.”
The remote learning began on Tuesday, Oct. 20. The principal’s memo did not specify, but the Independent has learned that the person who tested positive is a student, not a staff member.
It’s unknown whether anyone else has tested positive related to the school case. Health Agent Jane Crowley said there have been new cases since Eastham last posted numbers, which is done every Wednesday, the day after the Independent’s deadline. As of Oct. 14, Eastham had one active case and 16 cases total.
Contact tracing and related testing was ongoing as of Oct. 20, according to Crowley, who would not provide the number of new cases, saying results were “preliminary.”
This is the first positive test since school began on Sept. 16 in the entire Nauset Regional School District, which runs from Wellfleet to Brewster, and comprises a total of 2,361 students. School Supt. Tom Conrad said the elementary school rolled out the health and safety protocol planned for such a scenario.
First, Conrad said, the school and district nurses worked with the local health agent and contact tracers to determine who should be considered a close contact — that is, someone near the positive person for at least 15 minutes unmasked during the two days before the symptoms began.
In this case, Crowley said, the school took a conservative approach and considered the entire class to be close contacts.
“We are dealing with children and we need to think of any scenario where they may be in close contact,” Crowley said.
Children’s unmasked contact with each other is hard to control during recess, bus rides, and other situations, Conrad added.
Parents and siblings of the quarantined students who have not tested positive are not considered close contacts, Conrad said. Therefore, they don’t have to get tested or quarantine, unless they show symptoms or other contact tracing reveals a need.
But, Crowley said, the entire class should quarantine for the full 14 days — even those whose test results come back negative before then.