Harwood Union Middle School and High School is closed for in-person learning today and tomorrow, November 12 and 13, after an adult in the school community tested positive for coronavirus. For the rest of the week, all Harwood students grades seven through 12 will participate in remote learning. Additionally, all athletic events for November 12 and 13 are canceled.
The decision to close schools for in-person learning was made “out of an abundance of caution, and to give the contact tracers adequate time to complete their work,” said Superintendent Brigid Nease, who learned of the positive case on Wednesday November 11.
While all other district campuses will remain open and run on regular schedules, Harwood Union Middle School and High School will remain closed until contact tracing is complete. The administration plans to use the next few days to run a thorough cleaning of the Harwood building and to plan next steps once contact tracing information is received.
“Harwood will be remote until the contact tracing can get completed and we get a better understanding of where we stand,” said Nease in an update to school board members at a Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) board meeting on November 11.
However, Nease hopes Harwood schools will be open to in-person instruction by Monday.“I fully expect and hope that we cannot have things expand within our district. We will be looking at getting back to in person instruction on Monday,” she told the board.
The district’s “line list” for this case, which includes information on attendance and seating charts related to the positive person, has yielded approximately 40 close contacts.“Not all of these contacts will be called by VDH (Vermont Department of Health), but we add a step in our district which is, our team will contact those families by noon tomorrow,” said Nease.
In other words, family members of one of the 40 HUUSD close contacts on the line list will be called by the district and put on notice.
Siblings of close contacts may be asked to quarantine too, said Nease. “Stay tuned. Our families might be getting another updated letter that says if someone of the 40 is asked to get a test, we might ask their siblings to stay home and quarantine as well.”
Nease also noted that now is a good time to pay attention to calls from unfamiliar numbers, for it may be the VDH calling for a contact tracing interview. “When the contact tracing calls are made, VDH doesn’t come up in your phone, nor do they announce themselves as the VDH in a message left on your phone. So, if John Doe is one of the contact tracers and makes the call, he might just come up as John Doe on your caller ID,” said Nease.
Ultimately, Nease reminded the board that, while this case is concerning, it is also expected. “We’re not looking much different from the rest of the county and the rest of the state,” said Nease. “I know positive cases are being reported. I know Lamoille reported that their middle and high school will be going totally remote. There are positive cases at the Green Mountain Tech Center, and we have our fair share in Washington County.