Old Rochester Regional School District Superintendent Mike Nelson, Marion Town Administrator Jay McGrail, and Marion Board of Health Chairperson Dr. Edward Hoffer reported positive cases of COVID-19 at Sippican School in Marion on October 12 and 13.
Tuesday’s press release stated that it is believed that the two cases are unrelated. On both days, it was announced in press releases that the Marion Board of Health has been conducting contact tracing and thus far has determined that the person who tested positive has no close contacts that would directly impact the ORR School District.
All district schools, including Sippican, were to remain in session on Wednesday, October 14, in their regular, hybrid schedules at the recommendation of the Marion Board of Health.
“At this time, we believe that this second individual had no contact with the previously detected case, and there appears to be no connection or reason to believe they are connected,” Hoffer stated in a press release issued by the ORR School District and the Town of Marion. “Mass DPH/DESE guidelines state that if at least a 6-foot distance has been maintained at all times, then there has been no ‘close contact,’ and this was true for the second person identified. At this point, we see no reason to change the hybrid model being used at Sippican School, but will obviously be closely monitoring the situation.”
The single cases announced on Monday night and Tuesday afternoon, were the ORR District’s first positive cases since schools reopened on September 16 with a hybrid learning model dividing the student bodies into cohorts with two days per week in class.
On Monday, Nelson was quoted in a press release to state the following: “With this being our first positive COVID-19 case in the district since the beginning of the new school year, we wanted to make everyone aware of the situation and assure families that we are following all local and state health protocols. The health, safety, and well-being of all of our students, faculty, and staff is our top priority, and we will continue to update families as we have new situations that arise as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
As of Monday, the individual at Sippican School who tested positive was in self-isolation in accordance with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocol. The unidentified person has not been in school since October 7. The same was announced on Tuesday regarding the second positive case, that person having not been in school since October 8.
Under state and federal health privacy laws, no further information on the people testing positive was made available.
ORR announced on Monday night that, out of an abundance of caution, the district conducted a deep and thorough sanitization and disinfection of Sippican School on Monday. All district schools are cleaned daily after school.
Nelson and Marion officials urge all families and residents to sustain vigilance where it concerns COVID-19 protocols including social distancing, facemasks when in public, and practicing proper hygiene.
Deep cleaning of all schools will continue being conducted on a nightly basis. While the buildings are occupied, high-touch surfaces are and will continue to be cleaned frequently and as needed throughout the school day. Sanitizing wipes remain available in each classroom to wipe down desks when necessary.
To prevent further spread of the coronavirus in the community, the ORR School District has asked that students, families, and staff take the following precautions to prevent the spread of the disease: stay home (if you have a fever or are not feeling well); wash your hands (20 seconds with soap and water or 60-percent alcohol when soap and water are not available); avoid close contact (adhere to social-distancing guidelines as set forth by the state including 6 feet between yourself and others); in public wear a mask (that covers both the mouth and nose); cover up when you cough or sneeze with a tissue, then toss it out and wash your hands); and don’t touch your face with unwashed hands.