Fife primary school halts in-person learning after staff member tests positive for Covid-19

An elementary school in Fife has halted in-person learning until Tuesday after a staff member tested positive for Covid-19 late Wednesday night.

In a statement, Superintendent Kevin Alfano said, "As of tonight, the staff member who tested positive will not return to Discovery for 10 days which is the guidance we are following. The silver lining is we are proud of the system and we believe at this time we avoided an 'outbreak" scenario."

The Assistant Superintendant for Fife Public Schools told Q13 News the staff member contracted the virus outside the school.

"Out of an abundance of caution, we moved Discovery Primary School to the Full Remote instructional model to allow appropriate time to gather relevant tracing data and information and work with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD).  Through that work and communication, it has been determined that close contact was limited to a few staff members and no students were exposed," said Ben Ramirez, Assistant Superintendent.

A spokesperson with the health department released the following statement: 

We recommended disinfection where the person with COVID-19 symptoms worked. We didn’t recommend the entire school to be closed, but the school decided to take that step.

Based on our protocol, the school can open up as early as tomorrow (Friday), assuming they disinfected the area where the teacher worked.

This is a routine COVID-19 disease investigation. Our investigator outlined infection prevention steps, including proper ventilation, disinfection, mask use, and PPE. The school will obtain the names of close contacts of the infected person and follow up with those close contacts to recommend isolation and monitoring for symptoms. Anyone who develope symptoms should get tested. Our Case and Contact team will interview the infected person and ask about close contacts in the household and/or friends, extended family, etc.

The closure comes as school districts around Western Washington slowly bring students back to the classroom after almost a year of remote learning. 

Other districts that haven't begun bringing students back, like Seattle and Highline public schools, are still negotiating with local teacher's unions on how to safely bring all kids back to the classroom. 

Tacoma Public Schools is bringing all students back for a hybrid model over the next month, despite objections from some teachers who say they may not return to the classroom until everyone in the community has a chance to be vaccinated. 

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