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COVID-19: Stevens among Upper Valley schools to go remote due to virus cases

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/20/2020 10:15:28 PM
Modified: 11/20/2020 10:16:59 PM

CLAREMONT — Several schools in the Upper Valley moved to or continued remote learning on Friday due to cases of COVID-19.

SAU 6 officials sent students at Stevens High School home on Friday morning after learning of a person in the school community testing positive for COVID-19.

Students were expected to complete their work remotely, allowing time for contact tracing, SAU 6 Assistant Superintendent Donna Magoon said in a Facebook post on the Claremont School District’s page.

Later in the day, Magoon informed families and employees that in-person learning would resume on Monday, as all families that were affected by the positive case had been informed. She asked that should students who attend Stevens High School test positive over the weekend, they inform the school nurse Janine Riley at jriley@sau6.org.

Elsewhere in Sullivan County, the private Granite Hill School in Newport moved to remote learning on Wednesday through Friday due to a case there.

Students in the Rivendell Interstate School District, which includes schools in Orford, Fairlee and West Fairlee, also shifted to remote learning on Friday, after school officials on Thursday announced the first case in that school community.

The case involved possible exposure in all three of the district’s schools, according to a message from Superintendent Barrett Williams posted to the district’s website. Williams said students will be learning remotely through Wednesday, but he expects they will return for in-person instruction on Monday, Nov. 30.

Students in the Randolph-area schools in the Orange Southwest School District, however, will not be returning to school for in-person learning following Thanksgiving.

The School Board on Thursday evening unanimously decided to remain in a remote format “until such time as conditions in our community allow for a safe return,” Superintendent Layne Millington said in a Friday Facebook post.

“For me this means when we are confident that all individuals with COVID-19 and all their close contacts have been identified and are in quarantine so that we do not risk further contamination in our schools,” Millington wrote.

As of Friday morning, testing had revealed eight cases in the school district, but 20 additional tests were still pending.

Each day since Sunday, Nov. 15, when school officials first learned of new cases affecting the schools in the Vermont towns of Randolph, Brookfield and Braintree and moved to remote learning, school officials have learned of more new cases affecting the schools.

Approximately one-third of close contacts school officials have spoken with have said they do not plan to abide by quarantine guidelines, including some who had already tested positive, Millington wrote.

“This does not bode well for what our communities may face over the next few months,” he said.

In fact, Orange County reported 21 new cases on Friday, and have had 116 over the past two weeks, according to the Vermont Department of Health.

The Orange Southwest school district aims to return to its hybrid learning model and then fully in-person learning, but Millington said it won’t be able to do so unless everyone complies with the guidance. He noted that people traveling and gathering with others for Thanksgiving may further delay the district’s return to in-person learning.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.

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