Saturday, October 24, 2020

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North Branford High School Reports COVID-19 Positive Individual

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North Branford High School implemented COVID-19 protocols including contact tracing after a receiving notification on Sept. 18 of one individual in the school community who had tested positive.

File Photo by Pam Johnson/The Sound

North Branford High School implemented COVID-19 protocols including contact tracing after a receiving notification on Sept. 18 of one individual in the school community who had tested positive. (File photo by Pam Johnson/The Sound | Buy This Photo)

At about 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 18, North Branford High School administration was notified a member of the school community had tested positive for COVID-19, Superintendent of Schools Scott Schoonmaker confirmed for Zip06/The Sound.  The school quickly and safely implemented a number of procedures in place, he said.

The notification came in as a phone call from a family member of the individual who had tested positive, said Schoonmaker.

"We followed our mitigation and reopening plan to a T," said Schoonmaker. "We notified everyone and we worked in conjunction with East Shore District Health and our medical advisor every step of the way. My COVID team at the high school did an amazing job, as my COVID director and nursing supervisor. It was a total team effort."

Having every student assigned to a classroom seating plan, and a transportation plan if they ride the bus, facilitated contact tracing and getting that information quickly to East Shore District Health Department (ESDHD).

"We know where they're at, when they're at; so we were able to activate that quickly, and get that all to East Shore Health with phone numbers; and we made all contacts within an hour. So we really were on top of it quickly," said Schoonmaker.

A message was sent on Sept. 18 to notify parents, guardians and staff at NBHS of the positive case and also shared that immediate action had been taken to follow the district's COVID-19 response plans. The procedures included isolation, contract tracing and notification of those in close contact with the individual. Deep cleaning of the building's classrooms and common spaces was implemented following Centers for Disease Control Guidelines. The situation did not require closing the building.

The new school year began on Sept. 8. Schoonmaker said the district has been well prepared for the eventuality of a member of the school community testing positive for COVID-19.

"It wasn't a matter of if, it was a matter of when," said Schoonmaker. "We were put to the test. I think everyone did a great job, and I'm quite pleased with how we handled it."

The high school building will be open for school on Monday, Sept. 21.

"School will be open on Monday. We're not even near a point where we would consider closing; and that was discussed with East Shore District Health Department as well," said Schoonmaker. "We'll continue to monitor it, and keep an eye on our kids, and keep our families up to speed."


Pam Johnson covers news for Branford and North Branford for Zip06. Email Pam at p.johnson@shorepublishing.com.

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