PAWLET — Students, families and staff at Mettawee Community School have been notified that a student has tested positive for COVID-19.
The notification came by email from Bennington Rutland Supervisory Union Superintendent Randi Lowe on Wednesday afternoon.
“This morning we were notified that a student at the Mettawee Community School tested positive for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19),” the email said.
Lowe said that she, Mettawee Community School Principal Brooke DeBonis, and school nurse Mandy Mayer have been working with the Department of Health to determine close contacts.
Lowe also pointed out that the state recently changed its guidance, putting the onus on communicating the information to students and staff who may have been impacted and the school would be making contact tracing calls.
“Teachers and staff, families with children at the school, and families of the class impacted, are being sent communication,” Lowe wrote. “If you receive a call from the school, please answer, as we are sharing important information to you.”
Because of the increase in the prevalence of the virus across the country and growth in Vermont, Lowe said it’s important to stay vigilant.
“We are no longer an exception here in Vermont,” Lowe wrote. “Gov. [Phil] Scott recently increased restrictions and I implore everyone to be vigilant and continue to take steps to limit the spread of COVID-19. The most important actions you can take are to wear a mask, stay six feet from others, and wash your hands. Keep your child home if they are sick and call your primary care provider if you or your child has symptoms of COVID-19.”
The notice comes as schools have released students for the Thanksgiving break and Scott and health care workers have told families not the travel out of state nor to join in multi-household gatherings for the holiday.
The state also enacted a new requirement that schools ask students if they have traveled out of the state or joined another family for the holiday. If they have, students will be required to study remotely for two weeks, or one week with a negative PCR test for COVID-19.
“I would be remiss to not recognize that while I know the order was difficult for many of us right before Thanksgiving, my hope is that if we can make the sacrifices we need to now, it will yield future benefits,” Lowe wrote. “If you require quarantine, please stay home.”
In the BRSU notification about the governor’s order, Lowe wrote, “There is nothing negative about this and your child will not be penalized. I deeply appreciate your commitment to doing your part to keep our schools open.”
Lowe said the BRSU will continue to work with the Vermont Department of Health and that all cleaning protocols at Mettawee Community School follow the state’s guidelines.
“The classroom was thoroughly disinfected today,” Lowe wrote. “Anyone who is sick will not return to school until they are healthy and those requiring quarantine as a result of this case will do so.”
Lowe said the BRSU would not be identifying the student and she reminded people that there is no shame in getting sick.
“We are a learning community who care about each other and treat each other with dignity and respect,” Lowe wrote. “I strongly encourage us to remember that stigmatizing our community members does not lead to improved outcomes.”