On March 4, 2020

High school staff member quarantined due to coronavirus

Staff report

After six people died of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, in Washington state last week, local officials have been preparing for an outbreak in Vermont.

There were no confirmed cases in the state as of Monday, March 2, but officials are expecting residents will become sick.

White River Valley Supervisory Union Superintendent Brooke Olsen-Farrell said a staff member at Fair Haven Union High School has been voluntarily quarantined by recommendation of the state after he traveled to Italy. The individual will be quarantined until March 9.

“It is important to note that our staff member has zero symptoms and we have no indication that they were exposed to the virus,” Superintendent Brooke Olsen-Farrell said in a letter to parents Feb. 27. “This is purely being done out of an abundance of caution.”

Olsen-Farrell said the school district’s maintenance department has increased cleansing of all surfaces in the buildings to reduce the possible transmission of illness.

She said the school is also prepared to temporarily close if too many staff members or students become sick.

A total of 90,000 people in 67 countries have tested positive for the disease. Coronavirus kills about 2% of those infected. About 3,000 people had died as of Monday, March 2.

Vermont Department of Health Commissioner Mark Levine said at a press conference last Friday that 27 people were being monitored by the state. Another 14 people have finished the monitoring process.

Levine said he expects the disease will appear in Vermont soon.

“It’s time to prepare mentally and physically for disruptions to our daily lives,” he said in a recording of the press conference.

He said the state was preparing to close public spaces and limit mass gatherings. But there is little known about the virus. “Things evolve rapidly in terms of our state of knowledge,” he said.

Though it’s not in Vermont, an employee of Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in nearby Hanover, New Hampshire, tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday, March 1.

Officials said the individual at Dartmouth had traveled to Italy and was showing mild symptoms of coronavirus. The person was being quarantined at home.

Windsor Central Supervisory Union Superintendent Mary Beth Banios said the school district is closely monitoring the outbreaks and will be following Vermont Agency of Education and the Vermont Department of Health guidelines.

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