Mary Hogan Has New Cases; Virus Hit Over Break

MIDDLEBURY — Two members of the Mary Hogan School community have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, but both tests came over the recent nine-day Thanksgiving break and neither patient has returned to the school since, according to Principal Jennifer Kravitz.
“They all became infectious over vacation, and so there were no contacts to trace within the school community,” Kravitz told the Independent on Thursday. “The Vermont Department of Health did any contact tracing outside of the school community.”
Kravitz notified Mary Hogan families of the situation in an earlier Thursday lunchtime mass email when the positive tests were confirmed, she said. 
“We found out over the last day that 2 staff or students at Mary Hogan tested positive for COVID-19. These individuals became infectious and tested positive over vacation and have not returned to school since break,” Kravitz wrote.
“There were no close contacts at Mary Hogan School. I am sharing the news of these positive cases because we are reporting any positive COVID-19 results for Mary Hogan students and staff, regardless of the circumstances.”
The two new COVID-19 cases bring the number affecting Mary Hogan students or staff to five, all of which have come since Nov. 24. In her earlier communications Kravitz said the school did contact tracing for the first case, which came to light on Nov. 24.
Both the second and third positive tests, about which Kravitz emailed families on Nov. 28 and 30, respectively, also occurred during the recent vacation. 
In both emails, Kravitz used the same language: “The person was not contagious when school was in session.” 
In the Nov. 28 email, she added, “School administrators already contacted the close contact,” and “To ensure we return to a clean learning environment, the entire school will be disinfected this weekend.”
Kravitz said the school will continue to follow DOH safety practices, including screening students when they enter the school. In fact, Mary Hogan stepped up screening after the break as was the practice among Addison Central School District schools. 
Students were asked if they traveled out of state when they returned to school on Monday. And Kravitz said “if things came to our attention,” families were asked follow-up questions. 
In some cases, those families were asked to come to Mary Hogan and take their students home after answers showed they had not followed state safety guidelines during the school break.
“If there were students who needed to quarantine, we had their parents come pick them up,” Kravitz said. “When people weren’t following the executive order we asked them to quarantine. I feel like we tried to be really clear in our communications what the governor’s orders are, what we’re expecting, and I’ll continue to do that.”
Kravitz said she assumed other schools followed the same practice as they, like Mary Hogan, continued to do everything possible to keep students and staff safe and remain open. 
“We know that it’s really important for kids and for families that the school is open,” she said. “That’s what other countries around the world are trying to do, especially elementary schools.”

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