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USD 382 student tests positive for COVID-19 prompting quarantine actions

Jennifer Stultz
Pratt Tribune
Masked Pratt students gather outside Liberty Middle School before entering each morning for school.

According to information from the Pratt County Health Department sent out Friday, September 4, 2020, a young male under the age of 10 was confirmed COVID-19 positive in Pratt County. That individual was not connected to any previous positive coronavirus cases in Pratt.

Pratt County received notification of two additional positive cases since a prior update on Wednesday, September 2, and has six total positive cases at the time of this publication. The other new positive case was identified only as a male between the ages of 18-24, and someone who had been connected to an earlier positive case in the county.

“All individuals are quarantining at home and potential contacts have been notified,” stated Pratt County Health Department Director Darcie Van Der Vyver in the press release.

In a letter to parents on Friday, September 4, 2020, USD 382 Superintendent Tony Helfrich told parents that a student in the district did test positive for COVID-19 and all precautions were being taken to keep the virus from spreading in the school system.

“I want to take this opportunity to explain our process,” Helfrich stated in the letter to Greenback Family. “Under our COVID tab (school website), we have a ‘COVID flowchart for student’ document, which goes through our decision making and communication process.”

Helfrich said the school will send parents a notification via text when a child in the same school as their children has been identified as positive for the coronavirus.

“For those students with more direct contact, we will communicate in more depth,” Helfrich said.

Plans in place for contact tracing include stable lunch groups, seating charts with 4-6 feet of space between students, masking and symptom awareness.

“With the numbers in the country and state, we understand that this will not be the last time a student or staff member tests positive for the COVID-19,” Helfrich said. “Our goal is to reduce the risk of a community outbreak whil still providing opportunities for children to grow in a healthy manner. I do not want us to live in fear. Yes, there is an understandable anxiety and we will work to keep our schools safe. Cleaning is always a priority and we will do a deep cleaning where appropriate to mitigate any contact spread.”

Elsewhere in the area, USD 351 Macksville in Stafford County sent all students home for a quarantine period of 14 days after a high school volleyball student-athlete tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

There have been 53 positive cases identified in Pratt County as of September 4, but 47 have recovered. There have been 994 tests run on Pratt County individuals. Several Pratt Community College students have been confirmed  as positive for COVID-19 but exact numbers were not available and athletic teams affected were not confirmed.