Five COVID-19 cases pop up in Middlebury-area schools this week

MIDDLEBURY AREA — Probable and confirmed cases of COVID-19 have cropped up this week at schools in Middlebury, Cornwall and Shoreham.

Due to health information disclosure rules, the schools could not say whether the cases were among students, teachers or other staff members.

On Friday morning Principal Heather Raabe of Bingham Memorial Elementary School in Cornwall announced that a member of the school community has a presumptive positive case of COVID-19 and was in school this past Monday, Jan. 25, which considered contagious.

“Presumptive means that the individual has not yet received a positive test result, but was a high-risk, close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and has now developed symptoms,” Raabe and Registered Nurse Gina Ciancia-Jackson explained in a statement. “If the individual ends up testing negative for COVID, we will reach out with this information though we feel fairly confident that the individual is likely positive and want to treat this case as such in an effort to keep our school community safe.”

The news came hours after Middlebury Union High School Principal Justin Campbell announced that “a person associated with our school” has tested positive for the disease caused by the coronavirus.

“We have completed contact tracing and notified all ‘close contacts’ to quarantine,” Campbell said. “We have been in communication with local and state health officials and all are in agreement that there are no additional restrictions or precautions needed at MUHS.”

Middlebury Union Middle School was hit twice with the disease this week. Interim Principal Andrew Conforti on Tuesday said two members of the MUMS community had tested positive, and contact tracing was under way.

Principal Michael Lenox on Monday said that Shoreham Elementary School also had had one positive COVID-19 case. The school nurse or Vermont Department of Health had reached out to anyone who may have had contact with the patient.

This week’s announcements follow disclosure of four other cases at MUHS since Jan. 1, as well as three at Bridport Central School, five at Mary Hogan Elementary in Middlebury, one other case at Shoreham Elementary and one other case at MUS in 2021.

ACSD saw its first cases of COVID-19 in late November during a surge in cases statewide. Since then, the district, which operated nine schools in seven towns, as seen 29 COVID-19 cases.

ACSD posts updates on a COVID-19 dashboard, which is viewable by the public.

Elementary students have been in school five days a week with social distancing, mask wearing, enhanced hygiene and other precautions. Middle and high schools students are their school buildings two days a week.

Schools in Vermont in general have shown a much lower rate of COVID-19 than the community at large. Many of the cases in the schools were likely transmitted outside of the school.

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