By Kevin Passon

 The Unified School District of Antigo reported more than a dozen students are required to quarantine at home due to exposure to COVID-19 at West Elementary School.

Darlaen Jansen, school nurse, said Tuesday there is one confirmed case of a first-grade student at the school.

“Because the specific school opened their doors using cohorts, there were only 14 student families and one staff member impacted by the virus,” she said. “All other students within the school were not considered to be close contacts to a positive case; therefore, all other families may be confident in knowing it is safe for the rest of the students to return to in-person instruction.”

Cohorting forms groups of students, and sometimes teachers or staff, that stay together throughout the school day to minimize exposure for students, teachers and staff across the school environment.

“Those who are deemed as a close contact to a positive case (must) quarantine for 14 days and are monitor their symptoms,” Jansen said. “Given the information available, the students and staff member who were in close contact will be asked to remain in quarantine until Sept. 27, being able to return to in-person instruction on Sept. 28. During the time of quarantine, parents are asked to monitor for symptoms, and if any arise, they are asked to contact their family physician or Langlade County Health Department for guidance.”

The affected students transitioned to the temporary learning option.

“When a student quarantines, they are provided the technology to access assignments, submit completed work and maintain contact with their teachers,” the nurse said.

Jansen said parents were asked to contact their child’s school to update the district on any adverse changes in their student’s health. 

When the parent notified the school of the positive test result, the school nurse was notified.

Once Langlade County Health Department made contact with the parent, a conversation between the school nurse and health department took place to determine close contacts.

“This information was relayed to the school administration, and preparation to disperse this information to the families began,” Jansen said. “In this instance, all parents were notified by phone by the school principal.  A letter from the Langlade County Health Department and the school principal was also sent home.”

Jansen said the district is using guidelines from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Department of Public Instruction.

“Most of our schools are practicing  the cohort model to ensure the risk to the students is reduced,” Jansen said. “Students are assigned to a specific room, or group of students, along with one main teacher. Teachers who teach special classes such as music and art travel to the classroom to provide this class.

“Masks are required of all staff and students when in the presence of others. Social distancing is observed whenever possible, and good, frequent hand washing or use of hand sanitizer is promoted. All students have been fantastic and are very motivated to do their part in reducing risk.”

No other cases have been reported at other schools in the district, and Jansen said she is satisfied with how the situation was handled.

“Given the expedient action taken by the family, health department and the school district staff, I will say that every effort was made to ensure the safety of those affected by this unfortunate situation, as well as to those who have not,” she said.