Charlton parent tested for Coronavirus after overseas trip

CHARLTON — A pair of local students were sent home Monday as a precautionary measure after a parent was tested for COVID-19.

The dismissals came after school officials consulted the local health director upon learning the mother of two students had been awaiting results of testing for Coronavirus. The parent had returned over the weekend from an overseas trip and “did not feel well,” reported Dudley-Charlton Regional Schools Superintendent Steven Lamarche in an e-mail to parents.

Lamarche reported the unidentified woman had gone to Urgent Care, where she was tested for the illness. “The results are not back and its not a confirmed case of COVID-19,” the superintendent noted.

The students had been sent to school on Monday after the Urgent Care doctor had reportedly informed the family “it was okay to send their students to school,” Lamarche said. The students are enrolled at Heritage School and Charlton Middle School.

The superintendent explained that when school officials learned of the situation they contacted James Philbrook, the town’s health director. Upon consulting Philbrook, the schools contacted the family and the students were “dismissed until we have a confirmation either way.” The schools will remain open, Lamarche said, as the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has not recommended a school closure at this time. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has posted similar guidelines, urging districts to first contact its local Board of Health before communicating with DPH.

Lamarche stressed school officials “are taking this outbreak seriously” and will continue to work with health agents in the district “to establish sound decisions.”

After the two students were dismissed, school officials took additional precautionary steps, including overtime for custodial staff to “deeply clean” the two schools with an electrostatic disinfectant sprayer on Monday night. The superintendent added the district would “work with our transportation vendors” on taking steps to ensure clean buses for students.

CDC

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 “is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”

The CDC states patients with COVID-19 have had “mild to severe respiratory illness” with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

The CDC has urged the general public to avoid close contact with people who are sick, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, and to wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Those who are ill with any respiratory illness are urged to stay home when they are sick, cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and to clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

For those who have traveled from an affected area, the CDC notes “there may be restrictions on your movements” for up to two weeks.

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