Dozens of Attleboro students quarantined after positive test returns to the school
ATTLEBORO, MASS. (WLNE) – Dozens of students at Attleboro High School have been quarantined after a student who tested positive for coronavirus went to school.
ABC 6 News has learned the student knowingly attended school infected. A school official says the student’s positive test results came back on Friday, the student attended school on Monday and the local Board of Heath didn’t alert the school until Tuesday.
On Wednesday, the Principal of the high school, Bill Runey, responded to the news.
“We expected to have some exposures, I’m not naïve,” Runey said. “I just didn’t think it would be on the first day and something that was beyond our control.”
Runey says the school took every precaution to prepare for back to school and that this was not a result of a breakdown in their safety protocols, but rather a delay in notification.
“The family didn’t notify us. Rumors started to circulate after the student had been here on Monday and someone contacted the local board of health.”
The local Board of Health confirmed positive test results on Tuesday, a day after the student had been to school. However, Runey says he doesn’t blame the Board of Health for what happened.
“They are absolutely swamped,” Runey said. “We have a tremendous relationship with our local Board of Health. It was just a gap in time that could’ve been prevented had the student not come to school at all.”
From there, nurses worked diligently to review seating charts in classes, cafeterias and the student’s bus. Anyone who was not six feet away for more than 15 minutes is considered close contact and was ordered to quarantine.
Runey says classes were deep-cleaned as they are every day with a special focus on rooms that were exposed.
“There is no such thing as complete safety, there’s no such thing as true safety,” Runey said. “But, we have worked very hard to make sure that we are asking people to stay home if you don’t feel well and if we do have an exposure, we have solid contact tracing in place to identify who needs to quarantine.”
School officials decided school will continue to go on in-person with their hybrid model. They say any student who has not been notified by school nurses should not be alarmed and that they are not considered close contact.
The Superintendent also responded in a statement sent to ABC 6 News:
Dear APS Families,
This morning we learned that a student who had tested positive for Coronavirus attended school at AHS on Monday. We were not notified until today of the test result, so we were unable to prevent the resulting exposure. This unacceptable outcome was caused by delays in the reporting timeline, not a breakdown in our safety protocols. Our nurses diligently have identified all of the close contacts and notified these families of the need for these students to quarantine for fourteen days. If you were not contacted, your student was not impacted by this event. This includes students at other schools.
I understand that this inevitable moment is stressful for many. However, it shouldn’t change anything. The guidance from the state cannot ensure a virus-free environment, especially considering we know that some carriers are asymptomatic. While measures like contact tracing and daily prescreening help to reduce this threat, our safety precautions are ultimately designed to prevent the spread of the virus under these precise circumstances. We will have to wait for the end of the quarantines to be certain we were successful, but there is no reason at this moment to assume differently.
We will continue to monitor all of the data and act accordingly at both the school and district levels.
David A. Sawyer