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Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH) has received confirmation of a positive case of COVID-19 at Avery Parsons Elementary School in Buena Vista.

As a result, a first- and a second-grade class were ordered to go into a 14-day quarantine.

“We believe that the child was exposed to COVID-19 through close contact with a family member and not within the school itself,” a press release from CCPH read. “The positive case is recovering in isolation at home. All close contacts to the positive case have been contacted by Public Health.”

In the case of a school-aged child, close contacts include the entire classroom, as well as anyone outside of the classroom who was within six feet for greater than 15 minutes. As a precaution, CCPH and Buena Vista School District have quarantined a second classroom of a sibling of the positive case. Students, staff, and other close contacts have been instructed to quarantine at home for 14 days since the last exposure.

Individuals who are quarantined should stay at home and not go to school, childcare, after-school activities, or any other activity around other people,” the release read.

Avery Parsons Elementary School in Buena Vista welcomed students back on Thursday, Aug. 27. Photo by Tara Flanagan

“We understand that with children, true isolation and quarantine are challenging because of the caregiving needs of a child. For families of a quarantined child, it is important to do your best to avoid significant physical touch, sharing utensils, sharing drinks, etc. COVID-19 spreads easily within family units, so vulnerable family members need to be especially cautious around quarantined children,” said CCPH nurse Emily Anderson.

If a close contact develops symptoms consistent with COVID-19 they need to:

  • Follow isolation instructions
  • Get tested
  • Notify the school

Siblings and parents of individuals who are quarantined may still go to school/work unless they or the individual who is quarantined starts showing symptoms or tests positive. The chart in the featured image above distinguishes the difference between primary (close) and secondary contacts and how to handle each situation.

Quarantined students and staff do not need to get tested for COVID-19 unless they become symptomatic. However, many families may wish to proceed with testing. The best way to test quarantined individuals who do not have symptoms is through Public Health’s free COVID-19 testing clinics that are scheduled on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Salida and Wednesdays in Buena Vista. The ideal time to test a close contact is around 7 days after last exposure to the positive case.

If you or your child develops symptoms, rapid testing through the child’s primary care physician is recommended. If you choose testing, please call Public Health at 719-539-4510 to schedule a COVID-19 test. The test results take 2-4 days. A negative test result does not mean that one will not develop symptoms or become sick after the test. A negative test result means that one did not have COVID-19 detected at the time of testing. A negative test will NOT release one from isolation and does not allow one to return to school or attend other activities sooner.

“We have been preparing for this inevitable scenario for months, and we are confident that the collaboration between the schools, Public Health, and the medical community will get us through each situation that arises,” said CCPH director Andrea Carlstrom. “Quarantining entire classrooms is not a failure of any system, but rather it is the most impactful public health intervention that we have available. Our goal is to keep children in in-person learning for as much of the year as possible, and the only way to do that through these measures.”

Those with further questions should contact Chaffee County Public Health at 719-539-4510.

Featured image: Close, Primary and Secondary contacts, each with appropriate protocols.  Courtesy CCPH