Jessica Cejnar / Tuesday, Aug. 25 @ 5:11 p.m. / COVID-19, Education
Seven Castle Rock Staffers In Quarantine Due to Reported COVID-19 Cases; Del Norte Sees Five New Cases
A total of seven employees at Castle Rock Charter School were asked to quarantine after two positive COVID-19 cases were connected to school staff.
Two were identified over the weekend as potential contacts with the first COVID-19 case reported to the Del Norte Public Health Branch on Friday, according to county superintendent Jeff Harris. After a second positive case was confirmed on Monday, Public Health officials asked another three staff members at the school to quarantine, Harris told the Wild Rivers Outpost on Tuesday.
None of the staff in quarantine, apart from those who tested positive, complained of fever, cough, difficulty breathing or other COVID-19-related symptoms, Harris said.
Castle Rock Charter School is an independent study program under the jurisdiction of the Del Norte County Office of Education. Its students started fall lessons on Monday, Harris told the Outpost.
“Last week families were coming in (and) were picking up materials, they were picking up books,” said Harris, who is also Del Norte County Unified School District’s superintendent. “As of today, the procedure is if families still need to pick up materials or books or anything else, those materials are gathered by staff and placed on tables outside. NO one is coming into classrooms or into enclosed spaces. There’s no contact with families unless it is outdoors and more than six feet (apart). And even at that point, staff are wearing masks.”
As of Tuesday, there are a total of 15 active COVID-19 cases in Del Norte County, according to Del Norte County’s COVID-19 Information Hub. Five new cases were reported to the Public Health Branch, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the county to 121.
Three of the new cases are travel related, according to Public Health. One is still under investigation and another is a household contact to the case under investigation.
According to the Public Health Branch, all new cases are symptomatic and the patients are self-isolating at home.
Though he wasn’t able to go into detail, citing privacy laws, Harris said the first case was connected with an “instructional classroom.” The second case was connected with the school’s front office area, he said.
In both situations, if someone tests positive for COVID-19, the guidance is to close that room off for 24 hours before disinfecting all hard surfaces, exposed surfaces, high traffic surfaces and shared surfaces, Harris said.
“We use something called Vindicator,” he said. “It’s on the EPA’s list for chemicals that kill the COVID-19 virus or similar virus in the same strain.”
Since two cases have been connected with Castle Rock, Harris said the county public health officer, Dr. Warren Rehwaldt, is urging other school employees to be tested. Employees who are experiencing COVID-like symptoms or who have a chronic issue that is getting worse or is accompanied by a COVID-like symptom are also urged to stay home and contact the Public Health Branch, Harris said.
DNCOE and DNUSD administrators are also urging adults to stay as socially distanced as possible and avoid congregating in staff lounges or other shared spaces, Harris said.
“If they’re sharing equipment, then that equipment needs to be wiped down,” he said. “We’ve also looked at some enhanced cleaning. Bathrooms, for instance, may have only been cleaned every evening — they should be cleaned several other times throughout the day.”
Though Del Norte Unified School District teachers are undergoing training and preparing for the start of lessons, students aren’t expected to be in an actual classroom until mid-September at the earliest. However, if staff have to come onto a campus, they’re asked to undergo screening questions, Harris said.
“That screening tool asks whether or not they’re having COVID-like symptoms — it asks a variety of questions,” he said. “If they don’t pass the screener, then we’re asking them to stay home and contact human resources. If they do pass the screener, then they are able to go ahead and come onto campus. It is a self-screening tool. When we say pass-don’t pass, it’s at the discretion of the employee as they utilize the tool.”
DNUSD students start lessons remotely next Monday. Harris said district and county education officials are working with Del Norte County Public Health to discuss how to go about progressing through the 2020-21 school year safely.
“We were on the phone with Public Health today having conversations about processes — about school guidance versus other community guidance and what these processes and protocols would be,” Harris said. “We will make sure that as we move forward we continue to put the safety of students, staff and our community first.”