COVID hits elementary school

5th- and 6th-grade classes recently put on quarantine

Ashley Swan

Tracy Area Public Schools have, for the most part, weathered the COVID storm since school returned after the 2020 shutdown. However, as officials have learned, no one is out of the woods just yet,

Last Wednesday (March 31), a fifth-grade class at Tracy Area Elementary School was sent home to distance learn because of a positive COVID-19 test within the classroom. This Monday, a sixth-grade group suffered the same fate after a positive case was revealed over the weekend.

“The fifth and sixth grade, that group rotates around with each other, and they’re with each other pretty much all day,” said TAES Principal Michael Munson. “Ann Orren (from Southwest Health and Human Services) recommended that if we have a group that is together over a four-hour time period, that all the group gets sent home, whether they are within 6 feet or not, because they’ve been in the same room with each other all day long.”

Munson said the only time the grades intermix is in recess, which is outside, and a bit in PE/music, although there is plenty of separation there between groups.

The fifth-grade class that was sent home included about 17 students, the sixth-grade class is 21. Munson said the school pays close attention to contact tracing on a daily basis.

“We do any tracing if we feel there are other times that (a student) has been near somebody for 15 minutes, within 6 feet apart,” Munson said. “We try to do the best we can to contact trace.”

Munson said the kids who have been sent home will return to Zooming with their teachers, and everyone is accustomed to that since the pandemic closed the school’s doors last spring.

“They’re having as normal of a school day as we can possibly make it,” Munson said. “We sent home a piece of paper that shows their normal schedule, so, for instance, they’ll have science at their normal time, Zooming with their teacher. Hopefully they won’t miss a lot being quarantined with this.”

Registered Nurse Ashley Swan, the school district’s healthcare leader, said the district was prepared for things like this to occur.

“We know these things are going to happen, and we expect them to happen,” said Swan. “There are some that are testing positive with no symptoms, and you can’t keep your child home with no symptoms.”

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.