On Tuesday, September 22, 2020, The Falls City Public School confirmed one staff members and one student testing positive for COVID-19 within School District 56; then on Monday, September 28, 2020, another staff member was confirmed to have tested positive.
The identified individuals are in self-quarantine under the direction of the Southeast District Health Department to avoid transmitting the virus to others. The school is asking parents to monitor their children for symptoms.
Some Falls City Public School students were asked to quarantine at home as a precaution for themselves and other students’ safety.
“Everyone requiring quarantine has been notified,” said Falls City Public School Nurse, Jenny Helmick. “There are many different settings in a school that would place a person within six feet for a cumulative time period of fifteen minutes. If both people in this situation do not have a mask on, then those individuals will be asked to quarantine themselves. The only way out of quarantine is if the COVID positive person and the individual around that person are both wearing a mask.”
Helmick assured the Journal that parents need not be concerned at this time. “Most people testing positive for COVID think it is just allergies,” said Helmick. “Please take the time to screen yourself and students prior to coming to school.” She added, “Parents should screen their children prior to coming to school every morning for two or more of the following: fever (measured or subjective), chills, cold/shivering, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. At least one of the following: new cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, loss of taste and/or smell. Has at least one symptom and answers “yes” to: Is there someone in your household who is currently in quarantine or currently positive for COVID-19? If the answer is yes to any of these questions or have other questions, keep your child at home and contact your school.”
Helmick did say that quarantine can affect a person’s mental health and they are trying to prevent that as much as possible. “If you know someone who is struggling, please contact the health department and/or the school for information regarding support. We are using the information we have collected to teach others how to protect themselves and to improve our classrooms for better social distancing. Classrooms do not always have enough room to maintain a six-foot distance between each person. The only way to stop quarantine is wearing a mask in those situations; therefore, we are still strongly recommending that everyone wears a mask at all times.”
The Southeast District Health Department (SEDHD) reports a new total of 59 cases in Richardson County as of Friday, September 25, 2020.
According to the Southeast District Health Department COVID-19 Dashboard, 56.6 percent of cases by exposure are community; 36.8 percent are direct contact and 6.6 percent are travel.
Four-point one percent of cases are hospitalized and 95.9 are not hospitalized.
Confirmed cases by age group are 1.3 percent in the 0-9 age group; 16.4 percent in the 10-19 age group; 24.1 percent in the 20-29 age group; 11.6 percent in the 30-39 age group; 9.5 percent in the 40-49 age group; 17.2 percent in the 50-59 age group; 10.6 percent in the 60-69 age group; 4.8 percent in the 70-79 age group and 4.5 percent in the 80+ age group.
There have been 156 new cases in the last 30 days.
All identified close contacts will be asked to self-quarantine. Individuals with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should self-isolate to avoid transmitting the virus to others.
COVID-19 symptoms include cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell.
As of Sunday, September 27 the total cumulative confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the district were 399.
The Hiawatha School board voted last Friday to remain on remote learning at their elementary school through October 9, but resume on-site learning at the middle school and high schools this past Monday. This came after moving to all remote learning due to extensive quarantining due to COVID exposure in the elementary school. The board will meet again on October 5.
Local COVID-19 testing available every Wednesday from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at Community Medical Center in Falls City. Pre-Register at TestNebraska.com
Testing is free through Test Nebraska.