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Greenwood school has positive COVID test case

An unspecified number of students in the Greenwood School District have been sent home to quarantine for 14 days after a confirmed positive test for coronavirus was made known last week. It’s not yet reason for the district to consider going to a virtual instructional format, but it is cause for concern as the number of active reported cases in Clark County continues to jump.

District Administrator Todd Felhofer confirmed on Monday that someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 was in the school buildings last week, but he is being careful not to identify anyone. He would not say whether the positive case involved a student, teacher or staff member as the district is taking care not to violate the privacy of anyone.

“In a small district, we can very quickly identify people, and we can’t do that,” he said.

After the positive test was reported to the district, school officials and the Clark County Health Department went through contact tracing protocol to identify anyone in the building who may have had direct contact with the positive case. “A number of students” have been quarantined, Felhofer said, and families were informed of the situation last Friday.

“We continue to follow the county health department regulations and the procedures,” Felhofer said. “We feel right now we have done our best to contain” the situation.

“We do have a few kids out,” he said. “We’ve had very few positive cases, but we’ve had a lot of close contact stuff … We seem to have a little more at the elementary level.”

Felhofer said the district has not set an exact number for when it may consider suspending every day face-to-face instruction and switch to an on-line format. The county has recommended that schools send all students home if 20 percent or more of them have been in close contact with a positive case, but Felhofer said Greenwood has not gotten near that point yet.

What is “probably our biggest concern,” Felhofer said, is not a large number of students being exposed, but even just a few teachers. Staff numbers are at a minimum and substitute teacher pools have run dry, so just a few illness absences by teachers could create problems.

“Probably we’ll not have staff to get an adult teacher in front of kids,” he said. “Likely, that’s where we’re going to get tripped up. We haven’t quite reached that tipping point yet. Some days we’re close.”

Exascerbating the staff concerns is an area-wide dearth of substitute teachers this year. Many of those who take classes on short notice are retired educators, and they tend to be older and more susceptible to COVID-related health concerns.

“We don’t have a lot of subs in the best of years. We have none right now,” Felhofer said. “They (usual substitutes) made a decision to sit this one out.”

Greenwood’s situation is similar to that of many other schools in the area. Clark County Health Department Director Brittany Mews said last week that seven of the eight districts in the county were dealing with a positive test situation.