Employee in school district’s central office tests positive for COVID-19.
BOURNE — A Bourne Public Schools central office employee who has tested positive for COVID-19 had been in close contact with other office employees, including the superintendent.
Superintendent Kerri Anne Quinlan-Zhou announced the positive test result in a letter to school district staff Monday night. As of Tuesday, no one else had tested positive, she said later.
The school district immediately activated contract tracing protocols, including informing the town health agent, Terri Guarino, and providing a list of close contacts the employee may have had to the Visiting Nurses Association of Cape Cod, which leads Bourne’s contact tracing efforts, according to the letter.
In COVID-19 cases, close contact is defined by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes, starting from two days before illness onset or, for people without symptoms, two days before a positive specimen collection, until the time the person is isolated.
“At this point, all known ‘close contacts’ from this exposure have been informed, are in quarantine and seeking further testing per the CDC and the state’s Department of Elementary & Secondary Education,” Quinlan-Zhou wrote.
Fewer than five people were determined to be possible close contacts, Quinlan-Zhou said by email Tuesday. That does not mean these individuals were exposed to the virus, she wrote. In some instances the school district erred on the side of caution if an exact recollection of an interaction with the employee could not be determined, she said.
The person who tested positive did not enter any of the four school buildings, the letter said. The employee works out of the central office building at 36 Sandwich Road. Seven employees have offices in that location and additional districtwide employees regularly use the facility, Quinlan-Zhou said in the email.
Quinlan-Zhou identified herself as being in close contact and has already taken a molecular polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test, the letter said. She is awaiting her results in quarantine.
A PCR test for the live virus is sent to a lab for analysis and is preferred by the state Department of Public Health over antigen testing.
“As many of you know, I was touring the schools as part of the planning for reopening,” Quinlan-Zhou wrote in the letter. “All schools continue to be thoroughly cleaned per our protocols. My personal information, however, may be important to you when you make a decision about your work location tomorrow and for the remainder of the week.”
As part of its reopening plan protocols, the school district planned to close the central office building to all school business and personnel for 24 hours and conduct a deep cleaning, the letter said.
The building will reopen for business Wednesday.
Last week teachers and support staff were notified that they had the option to attend professional development programs remotely or in person this week, Quinlan-Zhou said in the email.
“Knowing that there are many factors that could contribute to a staff member being able to meaningfully participate in these important safety trainings to launch our school year, we made every effort to allow remote and in-person participation,” she wrote.
Bourne is set to begin its school year Sept. 16 with students learning remotely, with plans to phase in in-person learning within two to eight weeks.
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