Staff member tests positive, Jeffers closed
PAINESDALE — Jeffers High School was closed Wednesday due to a teacher testing positive for COVID-19 and a lack of substitute teachers, though it may be able to open again Thursday.
Adams Township School District announced the closure on its Facebook page Tuesday night.
The district made the decision after being notified by the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department of the positive test, said Superintendent Tim Keteri. South Range Elementary School remained open.
The staff member had gotten tested after showing COVID symptoms, said WUPHD Health Officer Kate Beer. The health department’s recommendation had been for the teacher to quarantine and for students to stay in class.
“The teacher was very diligent with wearing a mask and very diligent with the 6-foot distancing with the students,” Beer said.
The school is taking the day to assess how many staff members may have been in close contact with the staffer who tested positive. The student population was found to have had a low risk of exposure, Keteri said.
“Since there was exposure amongst the staff, and the low risk with the students, the staff needs to be assessed, what risk factors they had,” he said. “Once the Health Department determines their risk, we can make decisions moving forward.”
How soon the school resumes in-person learning will depend on how many staff members, if any, need to be quarantined. The district does not have a large enough pool of substitutes to accommodate a large number of quarantines, Keteri said.
“If we had subs, we could move forward tomorrow,” Keteri said.
Wednesday afternoon, Beer said based on an investigation of close contacts, the school would have enough teachers to open back up Thursday.
“Sometimes we just need to take a day or so and piece out how everyone was and who was next to who,” she said. “They were really good with the information they had, so kudos to them. It just goes to show that maintaining that distance and masking helps with the decision-making process.”
If necessary, the school will adjust the schedule to minimize the number of students who would have to take online instruction, Keteri said.
“We want to keep the younger in-person instruction for as long as possible and manage that,” Keteri said. “Our seniors have a different schedule, and that might be easier to go online.”
The staff member had followed district protocols, including the requirement to wear a mask, Keter said.
There’s no indication so far of anything in the district’s protocols that would need to be changed, Keteri said.
“I think our protocols in place really helped us, in terms of limiting exposure,” he said. “I think anything you put in place, it’s not about stopping COVID, it’s about limiting the transfer. We can’t control you getting it or not getting it, but we can control that transfer among the student population. I think the protocols in place limited that, and that’s a good thing.”
Nevertheless, Keteri said, the district would continue to troubleshoot situations to limit COVID exposure for staff and students.
“In-person instruction is valuable, and we need to continually work to make that possible,” he said.