North Providence High School goes remote over 2 positive cases, around 100 in quarantine

NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – North Providence High School was closed Tuesday for deep cleaning and will start distance learning for two weeks on Wednesday after two students tested positive for coronavirus over the weekend.

In a letter to the school community, Superintendent Joseph Goho said as many as 100 students and 15 staff members are in quarantine. He said they’ll remain in quarantine until either October 13 or October 17. The school will reopen on October 20 with a hybrid in-person and remote learning plan.

“Since the high school level does not have stable pods, a hybrid model may result in fewer students and staff being quarantined and impacted when positive cases occur, thereby providing more stability, as well as opportunity for consistency and increased face to face learning,” Goho said in the statement.

Goho went on to say that the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) failed to notify the school of a positive case right away, causing the school to open as normal on Monday.

“The situation at the high school was exacerbated by the fact that RIDOH became aware of a positive student COVID19 result early Sunday morning, and evidently RIDOH notified the student’s family at that time. However, RIDOH did not notify the district or the high school administration on the day that the positive test was discovered on Sunday, as is protocol, nor did RIDOH initiate contact tracing for the high school on Sunday, which also is protocol. RIDOH informed the District of the positive high school student case on Monday morning at approximately 8:30 AM, and contact tracing began at that time by RIDOH,” Goho wrote.

He added that a high schooler that was deemed a close contact of a positive case showed up to school on Monday unaware, saying they didn’t receive a phone call from RIDOH.

At Birchwood Middle School in North Providence, a similar situation happened, Goho said, where contact tracing took place over the weekend, and students were directed by RIDOH to quarantine. But a close contact showed up to school Monday as well, saying there was no call received from RIDOH.

Joseph Wendelken, a spokesperson for RIDOH, told ABC6 that the department contacted Goho on Sunday, but were unable to connect with him. They connected on Monday morning.

Similar situations have been reported at other districts, like Lincoln and East Providence.

Superintendent of Lincoln schools, Dr. Lawrence Filippelli, told ABC6 that he was notified of a positive case on Oct. 1, yet RIDOH left a message on the school nurse’s office line the night before around 8:45 p.m.

Dr. Filippelli said the situation was not ideal, since the district provided RIDOH and RIDE the cell phone numbers of all principals and nurses to avoid a lapse in messaging.

Kathryn Crowley, Superintendent of East Providence schools, said last Thursday after 4 p.m. RIDOH left a school nurse a voicemail, alerting her of a positive case in a kindergartener. That nurse didn’t receive the message until the next morning when the school day had already started.

Crowley said she had to scramble to quarantine the class of 15 students and 5 teachers, and said she also left cell phone numbers with RIDE and RIDOH to avoid this issue.

The full text of Goho’s letter can be found on the school’s website.

©WLNE-TV/ABC6 2020

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Regional News, Rhode Island