Covid-19 cases reported in two Chittenden County schools

A student tested positive for Covid-19 at South Burlington High School and another case was reported in Williston. File photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

Two Covid-19 cases were reported at Chittenden County schools over the holiday weekend, one at Williston Central School and the other at South Burlington High.

Champlain Valley School District officials on Sunday reported a case at the Central School, which serves about 600 students in grades 3-8.

South Burlington administrators said Monday that they learned on Saturday that a student had tested positive for the virus. The school serves about 900 students.

Williston Central School and South Burlington High, both of which are using a hybrid learning system, will remain open for in-person instruction, according to district officials.

“While we certainly hoped that we would remain COVID-free, we expected this eventuality and we are prepared with a plan to respond to it,” Superintendent Elaine Pinckney wrote in a message to Williston families.

The CVSD announcement did not indicate whether the positive case was a student, a teacher or staff member. Pinckney said medical privacy laws prevented the district from providing additional information.

Contact tracing by the Vermont Health Department got underway Monday morning in Williston, according to Pinckney, and was expected to be complete within 24 hours.  The last potential exposure at school occurred on October 2, she added.

Contact tracing in South Burlington is already complete.

“School officials, including me, have been meeting with the Department of Health and others most of the weekend.  All students, staff, or other community members who the Department of Health considers to be close contacts with the positive case have been notified,” South Burlington High principal Patrick Burke wrote in a message to students.

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The Champlain Valley school district began the school year on a hybrid schedule, with students attending school in-person just two days a week, but it is in the process of bringing its K-4 students in for additional in-person instruction. 

Kindergarteners started their new schedule October 5, first and second grades were scheduled to come back October 19, and third and fourth-graders were slated to return October 26 for four days a week of in-person learning. Bonnie Birdsall, CVSD’s Director of Digital Learning and Communications, said the positive case would not impact the schedule for increasing in-person instruction in the younger grades “at this time.”

The Williston and South Burlington cases would appear to be the sixth and seventh positive Covid-19 cases reported in Vermont schools so far this year, according to a tracker maintained by the Health Department, which included data current to October 9 as of Monday. While the coronavirus has briefly shut down individual schools with positive cases, there have yet to be any reported outbreaks linked to K-12 facilities this fall.

The Champlain Valley school district has also created a Covid-19 reporting dashboard for its schools, as well as a guide for families about how it will handle positive or symptomatic cases.

Ed. Note — This story was updated at 4:30 Monday with the report of a case in South Burlington.

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Lola Duffort

About Lola

Lola Duffort is VTDigger's education reporter. Prior to Digger, Lola covered schools for the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire and the Rutland Herald. She has also freelanced for the Miami Herald in Florida, where she grew up. She is a graduate of McGill University in Canada.

Email: [email protected]

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