Rhonda Silence

School District 166 reports first COVID-19 positive case at school this year

Although everyone in the community hoped that our local schools would not see a case of COVID-19 in the school population, many acknowledged it may be an impossible goal with increasing numbers in the state. Hopes of making it through the school year without a COVID-19 case were dashed with an announcement today, Sept. 28, of a positive case and the need for some students to quarantine.

WTIP’s Rhonda Silence spoke with Superintendent Chris Lindholm, asking for some information on numbers. Superintendent Lindholm said after contact tracing of student interaction during the school day, it appears about 18 students were exposed to COVID-19. Lindholm said thanks to vaccinations, only seven students are currently being asked to quarantine.

School District 166 Principal Megan Myers made the announcement, stating that a member of the high school community has tested positive. Myers said the school is “in close communication” with public health professionals and partners and has, and will be, connecting with families of those affected by this case.

One parent shared their individual notice on Facebook which informs them that their child was exposed to a person who was contagious for COVID-19 on Wednesday, Sept. 22. The notice informed the parent that they will be receiving a call regarding possible testing for their child.

Superintendent Lindholm said there are two options for testing. The school has saliva test kits available at the office. Call 218-387-2273 for information on acquiring a kit and getting set up to take the sample properly. Or, families can contact Sawtooth Mountain Clinic for testing at 218-387-2330.

The parents were also told that while testing is recommended, quarantine is not necessary for children who have been fully vaccinated (in other words, it’s been at least 14 days since they had their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine). However, the school notice said, for the next two weeks students should be mindful of how they are feeling and be sure to wear a mask in public. If at any point they feel sick, the school asks that the child test again and stay home.

For children who are not fully vaccinated, they need to stay home in quarantine until Monday, Oct. 4. During the time that the child is in quarantine, the school informed families that they should not attend schools, sports/extracurriculars, playdates or other gatherings with friends and family.

Even if an unvaccinated child’s test comes back negative, public health officials say they should still complete the quarantine and watch for symptoms. This is because it can take up to 14 days for a person who is exposed to COVID-19 to develop enough of the virus in their body to feel sick. Because a person is contagious for COVID-19 before they show symptoms, quarantine is an important way to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

The school notification tells families that only the child who was exposed needs to quarantine. Other family members do not need to quarantine.

Anyone with any questions about the public health recommendations for their child, is encouraged to call Cook County Public Health at (218)387-3605.
WTIP’s Rhonda Silence spoke with Superintendent Lindholm who notes that Cook County Schools has done a good job avoiding a COVID-19 positive for this long. He said he is unaware of any other schools who have had no cases, and in fact, many schools have multiple cases.

Lindholm also encourages the community to continue to support one another at this time.