MHPS has new positive COVID-19 case, several students to return Monday

While the Mountain Home School District did have another positive student case of COVID-19 confirmed Friday afternoon, there was some good news.

According to Mountain Home Superintendent Dr. Jake Long, there were no new close contacts since the student has not been on campus for two weeks. The district had 15 positive cases for the week.

Dr. Long says there are 22 active cases within the district, and 185 are on quarantine as close contacts. However, six of the positive cases and dozens of close contacts will return to campus Monday after completing their required isolation or quarantine periods.

Dr. Long also says he contacted the Arkansas Department of Health and the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education Friday morning, and he was told there was no need to do anything different for programming purposes or pivoting to off-site learning. The breakdown of positive cases and close contacts are reportedly not isolated to one specific building or location, and the health department’s epidemiologist said there was a link between positive cases and their homes more than what could be linked to the classroom or school spread.

Dr. Long’s full statement can be read below:

Another week has passed and there has been so much good happening. I continue to be thankful and encouraged by the efforts of everyone involved.

As of 2 p.m. today we have one new positive student case at MHHS, but no new close contacts, as the student has not been on campus for two weeks. We had 15 positive cases reported this week. There are currently 22 active cases within the entire district and 185 on quarantine due to being close contacts. Six of these positive cases and dozens of these close contacts will return to campus on Monday after completing their required isolation or quarantine periods. Because these numbers are certainly higher than we want, I set up a consultation call with the Arkansas Department of Health and Division of Elementary and Secondary Education this morning to review our data.

The breakdown of the positive cases and close contacts are not isolated to one specific building or location. The epidemiologist from ADH said there was a link between positive cases and the home more than what could be linked to classroom or school spread. Ultimately neither ADH nor DESE recommend us doing anything differently for programming purposes or pivoting to off-site learning. They advised us to continue to monitor the cases, create maximum distancing opportunities, encourage individuals to stay at home if they display symptoms or are being tested, wear our masks, and practice good hygiene.

This was positive information for us to know that the quarantine process is working within our schools. I realize it is super frustrating and disappointing in many cases for students and staff who are not sick to have to quarantine. I have asked our administrators in grades 6-12 to walk every classroom to measure the distance between the seats to ensure that 6 feet of distance is being met. In some cases there is no more spacing that can be done, but in most cases we are achieving separation. In those classrooms where the distancing cannot be achieved, I encourage alternate space usage and outdoor seating.

Unfortunately many have had to experience the inconvenience of being quarantined. I hope this will help us all fully recognize why social distancing is so important when it comes to contact tracing. Everyone is doing such a good job with the masks. I cannot thank you enough for everyone’s efforts with this.

I apologize for the wordy update this week, but I wanted everyone to know what I knew in the most transparent way. I appreciate everyone’s work. Thank you for being partners with us in our children’s education.

I have 5 thoughts (SUCCESS Magazine, 2014) for you to think about as you go into the weekend:

1. Optimize your mind – refuse to allow fear and insecurity to contaminate what you do

2. Resist distractions – by resisting disruptions, you command your time and increase productivity

3. Get more sleep – shoot for 7 hours to recharge your body and mind

4. Upgrade your circle – surround yourself with people who make you better

5. Stop it all – surrender to silence for 20 minutes a day

I appreciate everyone. Go Bombers!

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