Eight students quarantined

Alexis Barker
Eight students quarantined
Alexis Barker
NLJ News Editor
As a result of the first confirmed COVID-19 positive test result in Weston County School District No. 1 student, eight students from Newcastle Middle School are under a 14-day quarantine after the district worked with local health officials to use contact tracing to help identify students possibly exposed to the student who tested positive. According to a district press release, on Sept. 8 the school was notified of a positive test for a NMS student. 
“Once we were notified by public health officials, we went to work assisting them in their investigation trying to identify students who may have had close contact with the individual diagnosed with COVID-19 during the time frames we were given,” Principal Tyler Bartlett said. “Thankfully, we had anticipated issues like this in the school district and had done some work in advance to make contact tracing a little less cumbersome.” 
Working with the public health officials is key, according to Bartlett, who helms the 173-student school, and so far, those individuals have been helpful and informative. Both Bartlett and Superintendent Brad LaCroix assured the News Letter Journal that the district had no ability to perform any of the testing, although they would monitor symptoms, if needed. 
“As a district, we don’t have any say in who gets tested or quarantined and obviously don’t do any testing or diagnosing,” Bartlett said. 
LaCroix noted that the district will check with students who are exhibiting symptoms, just as they would with any potential illness or issue at any time during any school year. 
“The school is not making any of the decisions. We are just bridging a gap between the school population and the public health officials,” LaCroix said. “We are here to educate kids. The idea that we are pulling kids out and testing them is crazy.” 
LaCroix added that the rumors spread regarding the procedure are not helping. 
“If we are going to get through this, we have to believe that no one is out to be the boogeyman,” LaCroix said. 
Thankfully, Bartlett said, the parents and students involved in the positive case at the middle school have been patient and understanding. 
“Nobody wants to miss two weeks of school, but everyone is complying with directions from public health and doing everything they can to keep everyone healthy and safe,” Bartlett said. “Everyone is also putting in a lot of extra work now to try and help students stay caught up and not stress about missed school work.”
Both administrators maintained that the situation showcases the need for the guidelines set by the district and Wyoming Department of Health 
“Of course, it serves as a great reminder that COVID-19 is still something we’re battling against, and it reiterates the importance of following health guidelines like staying home when ill, washing hands frequently, social distancing and wearing a mask when social distancing is not possible,” Bartlett said. “Hopefully, we can learn from this situation as the school year continues so we can try to minimize the spread of illness and keep our schools open and our students in attendance. Regardless of anyone’s thoughts on the coronavirus, I think we can all agree that’s what is best for our students and our community.” 
Any community members, parents or students with questions or concerns regarding COVID-19 in the district are encouraged to contact building principals or administration directly. 
“If you have concerns, you need to reach out to the building principal,” LaCroix said. “We aren’t just talking about COVID; we are talking about any concerns regarding the school.”

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