Reading, MA – On December 3rd, in a new Pathways blog post, Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Doherty detailed the latest information relating to reported COVID-19 cases and exposures that have affected staff and students at Reading Public Schools. As stated in the blog post, the newest breakdown of staff and students who have either tested positive for COVID-19 or are currently being quarantined due to possible exposure to the virus is as follows:
- At the Barrows Elementary School, we have had one staff member test positive. This staff member was remote this week, so there have been no in-school close contacts or staff or students who have to be quarantined.
- At the Birch Meadow Elementary School, we have had one staff member test positive. This staff member was in school this week. We identified the staff and students who were potentially in close contact with the staff member through our contact tracing procedures. Those who were potentially in close contact are in the process of being contacted by the school nurse, Director of Nurses, and building principal.
- At the Wood End Elementary School, we have had two staff members test positive. These staff members did not have any close contact with students. We identified staff members who were potentially in close contact through our contact tracing procedures, and those staff members have been notified.
- At Reading Memorial High School, one student has tested positive. That student is remote this week and did not have in school contact with staff or students.
The affected classrooms and school spaces have been cleaned using the RPS cleaning and disinfecting protocol and were not used for 12 hours after cleaning.
“Contact tracing with the individuals who tested positive is ongoing, and any close contacts in the schools have been notified and will be followed up by the Reading Board of Health. As a result of contract tracing of the above cases, 14 students and five staff members had to be quarantined. At this time, we have not received any reports of other students or staff members experiencing illnesses with symptoms resembling those of coronavirus for this particular case,” stated Doherty in the blog post.
RPS is currently following the Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines in regards to quarantining. According to the blog post, the guidelines for affected students and staff are as follows:
- You will need to remain quarantined for:
- at least 14 days from the date of last exposure; or
- at least ten days, provided all of the following are satisfied:
- you have not had, and do not have, any symptoms;
- you are tested on day 8 of your quarantine period or later using a molecular diagnostic test (e.g., polymerase chain reaction (PCR)) to detect the presence of the virus;
- you receive a negative test result; and
- you monitor yourself for symptoms for the full 14 days. If you develop symptoms, you should contact your health care provider and be re-tested.
Doherty stated that none of the positive cases reported thus far had been transmitted in any affected school buildings. He thanked students, staff, and administrators for creating a healthy learning environment in the Reading Public Schools.
Doherty urged students and staff to take preventative measures both inside and outside of school, such as monitoring themselves for symptoms daily, staying home if they feel ill, wearing masks over their noses and mouths, maintaining physical distance, practicing regular hand hygiene, and sticking to their assigned cohorts and seating.
“It should be emphasized that it is not one mitigation strategy but a combination of all these strategies taken together that will substantially reduce the risk of transmission,” said Doherty.
Doherty stated that COVID-19 symptoms bear a similarity to flu symptoms, and he urged students and staff to familiarize themselves with both symptoms and stay home if they have any of the listed symptoms and get a PCR COVID-19 test out of an abundance of caution. Doherty also urged parents to notify the school if they themselves had tested positive and to quarantine their child and get them tested as well.
“We are closely monitoring this situation and will provide you with any further updates, if necessary. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me,” stated Doherty.