By Per Peterson
COVID-19 hit the Tracy Public School District last week.
In a letter to parents Friday, Tracy Area Public Schools Supt. Chad Anderson said the Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed a case of COVID-19 in a member of the Tracy Area Elementary School community. According to the letter, the exposure date was sometime between Sept. 23-25.
“We have worked with the MDH to identify those who had close contact with the case, and have communicated with them individually,” Anderson wrote in the letter. “The risk of exposure for other individuals present in the building on that date is no greater than the risk of contracting the virus in the general community.
“If you were not identified to have close contact with the positive case you should still monitor for symptoms of illness, but do not need to stay home unless symptoms develop,” Anderson continued. “If symptoms develop, stay home and consult with your physician to determine if medical evaluation is needed.”
Anderson said action has been taken to thoroughly clean and sanitize the facility and the district is working closely with the MDH to monitor the situation. He went on to say the school district is asking all members of the community to minimize the spread of the illness by taking the following actions:
• Protect yourself and others by wearing a face covering when it is hard to stay 6 feet away from people; washing your hands often with soap and water; covering your cough and sneeze; and avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands.
• If you are sick, stay home from child care and other activities.
• Be prepared in case you get sick and need to stay home. Keep enough food, regular prescription drugs, and other necessities on hand in case you need to stay home and are not able to go out easily.
• Frequently clean all commonly touched surfaces (e.g., telephones, doorknobs, countertops, etc.).
“This is a challenging time, and I know many of you may be feeling stress or anxiety,” Anderson wrote in the letter. “We will get through this together as a community, and will be stronger when we emerge.”
Anderson told the Tracy Area Headlight Herald on Friday morning that the district is taking a level-headed approach to the news.
“You can’t go through this COVID world and not expect it to affect you, or someone you know some way, some how,” he said. “The first hurdle is being mentally prepared for it, knowing it’s coming. Secondly, it’s not overreacting to it. We’ve just got to understand what it is, understand it happens in every school district and then take a level-headed approach to it.”
Anderson said both public schools are vigilant in their work to keep things as clean and sanitized as possible — a practice that began after schools were shut down back in March.
“We sanitize thoroughly every single day,” he said. “We’re prepared every day. We aren’t just waiting for someone to be sick. We’re sanitizing every day as if someone has had it. That’s why our teachers, in between classes, wash down the desks; the custodians at night do more in-depth sanitizing with chemicals and bleach.”
Anderson is aware there will be concern in the community about a positive case at one of the schools, but he wants to ensure the public that they’re doing everything they can to mitigate the issue in the name of safety.
“From the very beginning, as I told our staff, there are people on all sides of the spectrum of concern about the virus, and I respect that,” he said. “I can’t control how people react, but I respect everyone’s concerns. People just need to know we’re never going to do anything that will put any of our staff or our children in harm’s way.”