About 60 people from Belfield Public School, including faculty and students, were recommended to quarantine after less than 10 of them tested positive for COVID-19 last week. About 50 of those recommended to quarantine were deemed close contacts.
"Essentially, we had a call on positives that involved entire families," said Belfield Superintendent Daren Kurle. "We're a small school, and our kids are friends with each other, and our kids want to interact with their friends. They're going to get close to each other."
False rumors swirled that the school would close Oct. 1, but it will remain open for face-to-face instruction. The school district and school board had considered moving students in grades 7-12 to distance learning, but ultimately decided against it.
"We don't want to jump the gun. I found out that some of the staff that were mentioned that were going to be out on Monday weren't out because of a COVID-related thing. We had one gone (that) had to drive a bus somewhere. Another one just wasn't feeling well," Kurle said.
Since the beginning of the school year, the school has had about 15 total positives, including faculty and students.
Because some of the people deemed close contacts last week were faculty, the school district is drafting a procedure to allow them to return to work.
"First of all, you have to be asymptomatic for 48 hours after official notification from either me, COVID coordinator or designee, and then you've got to follow the following guidelines: mask during your quarantine period; we'll take your temperature; maintain six feet when you can; clean and disinfect your work area; ... and if you've got any of the symptoms of COVID ... stay home," Kurle said. "If you get sick, you're going home, and you've got to be symptom-free for another 48 hours before you can come back. If you go and get tested, you're staying in quarantine until we get your results back."
Kurle addressed parents on social media about the cases.
"Over the past week, we've been hit pretty hard by the virus. We've had approximately 20% of our staff and student population affected by this virus," Kurle announced on social media.
Kurle called on parents to help the school prevent the spread of COVID-19 and viruses in general.
"I'm asking you to social distance when possible," he said. "If you can, wear a mask. If your child is sick, keep them home, and if your child has been in for COVID testing, contact the school and let us know so we can make sure that your child stays home as you wait for your results."
Kurle said these steps are important to ensuring that the school can remain in face-to-face learning mode.
"We all know that this is the best method of instruction," he said. "In order to continue with this face-to-face instruction, we have to stop the spread of this virus. It doesn't matter what your personal opinion is ... It's here, and we're dealing with it. I have my own opinions on it as well, but we do need to do something about this."