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3 Greencastle-Antrim Middle School students test positive for COVID-19 in one week

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot

Two more cases of COVID-19 have been detected at Greencastle-Antrim Middle School — bringing the total to three. The superintendent is asking families to screen children before they go to school and to help with the emotional side of the virus.

The first case was reported on Sunday, Oct. 18, followed by a second on Friday, Oct. 23, and a third on Sunday, Oct. 25.

"It is with a heavy heart that I share a second positive case in our middle school," Dr. Lura Hanks, superintendent, wrote in a letter to families Friday evening. "As with the prior case, we will move through the same steps in notifying those impacted directly, as well as indirectly. We are entering a season where the spread of illness will likely see a continued increase in cases."

In announcing the first case, Hanks explained the student was quarantining and Mark Herman, middle school principal, worked through the student's day to determine who else may have been exposed.

"Exposure is being within 6 feet of this student for more than 15 minutes without a mask," Hanks explained. Students or staff exposed were required to quarantine for 14 days.

Families were notified by phone if their children were exposed, and will have to quarantine. Additionally, parents of children who share classroom or bus space with the students with the virus were notified by email and could make personal decisions concerning their children.

Parents are being asked to screen their children each morning and to keep them home if they have symptoms of COVID-19.

"Students at home will be able to access learning through the digital platforms of Seesaw (K-2) and Schoology (3-12)," Hanks wrote. "We are committed to remaining open for learning and need everyone’s support in making this happen."

The district's health and safety plan addresses the logistical steps that need to be taken, but in Friday's letter Hanks asked parents to help with the emotional impact.

"I am now reaching out to you as families and ask that you sit with your children and discuss empathy," Hanks wrote. "As I am making calls and talking with families, my heart breaks for the children that are bearing the burden of quarantine and possible illness. For our children, losing two weeks of socialization (and the routine that we opened schools to provide) seems like a lifetime. Fear of potential sickness and loss of friends can be emotionally draining. It will take all of us, including our children, to feel that weight for their friends and to lift them up. We know that adolescents can sometimes handle situations of fear and uncertainty in so many different ways.  

"Remind your children that we are taking safety precautions to mitigate the spread," the superintendent continued. "And please, help them to understand that no one is to blame for the virus occurring in our community. Let us hope that it passes over us with ease and that we can continue to protect our most vulnerable.

"May we continue together in support of our neighbors and friends and walk side by side in this journey. Remind yourselves and your family to be empathetic and kind, to wear a face mask appropriately, and to wash hands frequently. 

"We are stronger together," she concluded.