Some Raymond middle school students were forced to return to remote learning Tuesday after school officials feared six staff members were potentially exposed to COVID-19.
According to Superintendent Tina McCoy, fourth- and fifth-grade students assigned to Group B for in-person classes, which began on Sept. 1, were told Monday night that they would have to receive remote instruction on Tuesday.
McCoy said the decision was made after the school learned that six employees who work in grades 4 and 5 attended a private, non-school event on Aug. 30 and came into close contact with a student from another school district who is ill and was awaiting test results to confirm whether or not he had COVID-19.
The staffers showed no symptoms of the virus, but McCoy said they were self-quarantining out of an abundance of caution at the urging of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, which told the district that anyone who attended the event should quarantine for 14 days or until negative test results come back.
After the student tested negative for the virus, McCoy announced Tuesday afternoon that the students would be able to return to classes Wednesday.
“We recognize the challenges families face when we have to make these decisions at a moment’s notice and do not make these changes lightly. Our top priority will always be the health and safety of our students, staff and their families, and all decisions will be made with this in mind,” she said.
McCoy acknowledged the challenges that school districts will face as they try to address potential virus exposures now that students in Raymond and some other districts have returned to in-person classes or a combination of in-person and remote.
“The difficulty is that when too many teachers are out at once we will have difficulty arranging for enough substitute teachers to take over,” she said.
Meanwhile, Raymond schools are undergoing a deep cleaning each night and high-touch surfaces are being cleaned frequently. Sanitizing wipes are available in classrooms to wipe down desks when students change classrooms.
School officials continue to urge any students or employees who are sick or showing possible symptoms of COVID-19 to stay home and participate in remote learning. Students and staff will need to stay out of school for at least 14 days after the onset of symptoms, with signs that symptoms have improved, and at least 24 hours have passed the resolution of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.
Anyone who is tested and receives a negative result for COVID-19 will be able to return to school earlier than 14 days.