BELLOWS FALLS — Bellows Falls Middle School was scheduled to be 100 percent in-person learning for the first time this school year on Monday, but a confirmed case of COVID-19 changed all that.
Christopher Pratt, superintendent of the Windham Northeast Supervisory Union, said Monday that school officials learned late Sunday afternoon that a member of the middle school community had tested positive for the highly contagious virus. As a result, he said, the school will revert to full remote learning until Thursday.
And while the person had not been in school since last Tuesday, May 4, but had been in contact with a large number of people, the entire school will be in remote session until Thursday, Pratt said, noting that a large number of people will have to quarantine.
Pratt said that the Vermont Department of Health is conducting contact tracing, and that people will be contacted if they are considered close contacts and vulnerable to transmission of the virus.
The superintendent said confidentiality rules prohibited any release, whether it is a staff person or a student who tests positive.
Bellows Falls Middle School has been struggling this year to get all its students back in class because of the six-foot distancing rules, with most students on a hybrid model of two days in class only. But with the change to three feet, the school was set to resume normal operations on Monday.
The elementary schools in the supervisory union had been on the regular five-day schedule since April 19, but the Bellows Falls Middle School and the Bellows Falls Union High School were both set to resume the five-day schedule on Monday.
“We have been working closely with the Vermont Department of Health, and contact tracing is being conducted. Anyone who was in close contact with the person will or has been notified and asked to quarantine,” Pratt wrote in an email.
“I want to assure you that we have been following all protocols and that the instructional spaces used by the individual will be thoroughly cleaned. In addition to contacting individuals who may have had close contact, we have reached out to all families and staff that may have been exposed,” he added.
Because of the large number of individuals required to quarantine and based on recommendations from the health professionals, Bellows Falls Middle School will be remote on Tuesday and Wednesday. Students will continue to follow the Wednesday remote learning schedule, he said.
He added that “as of right now, Bellows Falls Middle School is planning on resuming full in-person instruction on Thursday, May 13.”
He said parents were notified Sunday and Monday of the change.
Contact Susan Smallheer at firstname.lastname@example.org.