Crossett Brook Middle School in Duxbury is closed this week after two students tested positive for COVID-19. All classes are remote and all other district schools are open.
The students, a fifth- and seventh-grader, were asymptomatic according to Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) Board chair Caitlin Hollister. The students attended school on September 8. HUUSD Superintendent Brigid Nease said she had to close the school for a week because she could not staff it.
Asked via email about why the school needed to be closed, Nease said, “After working with VDH yesterday to make the lists and determine who will be asked to quarantine we will be down 13 staff, including six core teachers.”
Nease said that she and building principal Tom Drake plus district nurses Kathryn Saunders and Allison Conyers made the decision after consulting with the Vermont Department of Health (VDH) and the Agency of Education.
Both Nease and Ted Fisher, spokesperson for the Agency of Education, were asked why so many teachers and staff need to quarantine since all staff and students are following appropriate protocols on masking and social distancing. Those answers are pending. The Vermont Department of Health referred questions about preK-12 to the Agency of Education. Hollister said she couldn’t speak to why so many staff need to quarantine and how certain teachers were asked to quarantine.
State health officials and the Agency of Education officials have repeatedly said that a couple of cases of COVID-19 should not result in schools being closed or a return to remote learning. Though closure of a classroom might be possible, those officials have said.
Vermont’s health commissioner Dr. Mark Levine and state education secretary Dan French have said that the protocols of keeping children 3 to 6 feet part and masked (along with educators) throughout the day will prevent the spread of COVID in schools.
Nease informed the community of the school closure in a Sunday afternoon email at 4:30 p.m.
“Our team is working with the Vermont Department of Health to implement the required guidelines including contact tracing and quarantine. Families and staff will be notified by the department of health as required based on exposure. Please answer the phone if the health department contacts you. A contact tracer may be trying to reach you with important information,” Nease wrote.