Breckenridge Texan

Breckenridge High School student tests positive for COVID-19; district now requiring masks for third graders and older

Breckenridge High School student tests positive for COVID-19; district now requiring masks for third graders and older
August 27
23:27 2020

By Tony Pilkington and Carla McKeown|Breckenridge Texan

Today Breckenridge Independent School District announced that a high school student had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and had been on campus on Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Following notification to parents and an investigation, the school district discovered that more than 35 students had come in close contact with the individual, and Superintendent Bryan Allen announced that most students will be required to wear face coverings while indoors during the school day.

The students who were determined to have come into “close contact” with the infected individual are now required to quarantine at home for 14 days, based on guidance from the Texas Education Agency and the Centers for Disease Control.

“We will not be able to keep the school open or have the kind of school year we all want for our students if we are sending home that many students and/or staff each time someone gets sick,” Allen said in a statement that was sent out via the ParentSquare app and posted on Facebook. “After a conference call with local health officials today, and with the recent increase in local cases as well as the case at high school, Breckenridge ISD has decided that we will require all students and staff to wear face coverings while indoors during the school day.”

The additional health and safety precautions will begin tomorrow, Friday, Aug. 28, and will be in effect for all staff members and students at South Elementary, Breckenridge Junior High, and Breckenridge High School.

“We are highly encouraging students at East Elementary to wear a face covering if it is developmentally appropriate,” Allen said.

Students are encouraged to bring their own face covering from home. However, disposable masks will be provided at each campus Friday morning for those students who need one.

According to Allen’s statement, TEA defines close contact as:

  • (a) being directly exposed to infectious secretions (e.g., being coughed on); or
  • (b) being within 6 feet for a largely uninterrupted or sustained extended contact period throughout the course of a day of approximately 15 minutes; however, additional factors like case/contact masking (i.e., both the infectious individual and the potential close contact have been consistently and properly masked), ventilation, presence of dividers, and case symptomology may affect this determination.
  • Either (a) or (b) defines close contact if it occurred during the infectious period of the case, defined as two days prior to symptom onset to 10 days after symptom onset. In the case of asymptomatic individuals who are test-confirmed with COVID-19, the infectious period is defined as two days prior to the confirming lab test and continuing for 10 days following the confirming lab test.

Parents who asked on Facebook about whether or not they could switch their children to distance-learning were advised to contact their individual schools on Friday.

Stephens County Judge Michael Roach said he was expecting some local cases this week after the start of school, as well as other activities that brought community members together, such as Meet the Bucks.

“I’m not surprised; however, I think the school made the wisest decision they could (about now requiring students to wear masks),” Roach said. If a student who tests positive for COVID-19 had been wearing a mask at school and so had the other students who were in close contact with him or her, then the TEA might require only the one with the virus to quarantine.

The impact of the situation extends beyond the school campuses, he said. For example, some employers require their employees who are parents of quarantined students to also stay at home under quarantine for 14 days or until they test negative. Additionally, Roach said, the COVID-19 tests are most effective when they are administered at least five days after a person has potentially been exposed to the virus.

“The mask thing allows a lot of flexibility for the local economy; it allows for safety at the school,” he said.

The judge said that, while he is not fearful, he is concerned for the community from a public health standpoint. According to the daily report from Stephens Memorial Hospital, there are currently 12 active cases of COVID-19 in the community with three tests pending. That is up from two positive cases a week ago.

If the community gets more than 20 active cases of the virus, it will no longer be exempted from the regulations put in place by the governor.

“That will reduce the capacity at local restaurants, which hurts the economy,” Roach said. “Those are things that I don’t have any control over. There are things that happen at the schools that they don’t have any control over.

“I think that this is the time when we can sit around and complain about it or we can roll up our sleeves and do the right thing,” he said. “And, that’s what I would hope our community does.”

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