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Hours after reopening, Indiana school learns that one of its students tested positive for coronavirus

Aug. 2, 2020
People who were within 6 feet of the student for more than 15 minutes have been told to isolate themselves for two weeks

An Indiana school district—one of the first in the country to reopen its doors during the coronavirus pandemic—did not even make it a day before it had to deal with a student who tested positive.

The New York Times reports that Greenfield Central Junior High School in Greenfield, Ind., was notified just hours into the first day of classes on Thursday that a student attending classes had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Administrators began an emergency protocol; they isolated the student and ordered everyone who had come into close contact with the person, including other students, to quarantine for 14 days. It is unclear whether the student infected anyone else.

The Greenfield-Central Community School Corporation, with eight schools and 4,400 students, has given families the option of in-person or remote learning. At Greenfield Central Junior High, about 15 percent of the 700 enrolled students opted for remote learning, says Superintendent Harold Olin, the superintendent.

Students are required to wear masks except when they are eating or for physical education outside,. Olin says that as far as he knows, the student who tested positive was doing so.

Anyone who was within six feet of the student for more than 15 minutes on Thursday has been instructed to isolate themselves for two weeks. He would not give a specific number of people who were affected at the school, but he said no teachers or staff members were identified as close contacts, and therefore none have been told to quarantine.

Olin says the district has not established a specific threshold for when it would close a school, but that it would likely do so if absences reached 20%. 

Some teachers in the district say the positive case on the first day confirms their fears about returning.

“I most definitely felt like we were not ready,” says Russell Wiley, a history teacher at nearby Greenfield-Central High School. “Really, our whole state’s not ready. We don’t have the virus under control. It’s just kind of like pretending like it’s not there.”

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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