Some Delaware school district dealing with virus cases

With coronavirus cases hitting the second-highest daily amount in the history of the state Friday, several school districts have reported positive cases in their buildings, impacting both students and staff.

Statewide, there have been 455 positive cases in schools since the state began reporting them Sept. 1. The data is released weekly.

Of those cumulative cases, in child care facilities, 50 staff members have tested positive and 45 students; private K-12 schools have had 44 staff and 99 students test positive; and public K-12 schools have had 135 staff and 82 student cases.

Between Nov. 5 and Nov. 12, 10 staff and 10 students tested positive at child care facilities; less than 10 staff and 24 students tested positive at private K-12 schools; and 27 staff and 21 students have tested positive at public K-12 schools.

Cape Henlopen School District — one of the districts in the state that opened with in-person instruction from the get-go back in September — announced two positive student cases Thursday. The students are from the same household, and will not return to school until after the isolation period, an email from the district states.

“Anyone who has been in close contact with them as determined by the Division of Public Health (DPH) is being notified by the school and DPH, and may have to quarantine for 14 days before returning to school,” officials wrote in an email to families.

At Cape’s school board meeting Thursday, Superintendent Bob Fulton acknowledged that case rates are going up in the district’s ZIP codes. That hasn’t translated necessarily to the school buildings, he added.

Now is not the time to “relax or get tired” of following the protocols that have widely been in place since mid-March, he said during the meeting.

“Being in school, with our students attending in-person instruction, is completely dependent upon what staff and students do when they’re not in school,” he said, urging the community to follow safety protocols.

He added there are benefits to having the students in school, especially when it comes to keeping cases down.

“In fact, I think the fact that we have staff members and students in school in some cases every day actually helps with decreasing the COVID numbers in our ZIP codes because while they are in school, they aren’t out of school and they’re being supervised and protocols are being followed. Those kinds of things,” he noted.

Lake Forest, which has been bringing its students back in waves with the goal of getting every student who wants to be in front of a teacher to do just that, also reported several positive cases.

Two students and four staff members have tested positive for the virus since the school started bringing back more of its population in mid-October.

“None of these cases were contracted in school or during school-related activities and, according to the Division of Public Health, there were no risks of transmission to students or staff at school due to our strict observation of safety protocols,” Superintendent Steven Lucas said during a school board meeting Thursday.

Currently, the district has students in grades pre-K to five and grades six, seven, nine and 11 in school. The district plans to move ahead with its fourth phase of returning the remaining students to school Nov. 30.

“While we’re managing, the more students we bring in, the less margin for error there is,” he said.

Due to that, Dr. Lucas said the district could potentially need to switch back to remote learning temporarily, or “at one school or another,” to make sure it maintains safety protocols.

“We’re executing as planned, but we’re taking it one day at time,” he said.

Capital School District, which brought some of its students back Monday and plans to bring more back Nov. 30, announced a staff member tested positive in an email to staff.

The person will not return until the isolation period has passed and DPH will notify those who may need to quarantine, according to the email.

Earlier this week, Appoquinimink said that, since Oct. 19 when they brought students back for hybrid, 39 individuals in the school community had tested positive. Of the 30 students who were positive, 18 are cleared; of the nine staff, five have been cleared as of Tuesday.

So far this year, with the positive cases in schools, Sussex Technical School District — which is operating under a “modified remote” where educators can bring students back optionally — has closed its campus twice for deep cleanings after students and staff tested positive in October and early November.

Woodbridge High School moved remote for a two-week period after it experienced a rise in cases in late October to early November.


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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