First COVID-19 case reported at area school
By Anna Jauhola
Just before MEA weekend, Lancaster School reported its first positive COVID-19 case in a high school student.
Superintendent Shannon Hunstad said, for privacy reasons, they are not releasing the name of the student. However, the student and a handful of close contacts were put in isolation and quarantine immediately starting Wednesday, Oct. 14.
“They started distance learning on Wednesday,” Hunstad said. “We’re super proud of them. Our teachers were able to connect with them the very next day and even the kid that was positive attended all their classes remotely. We’re very fortunate to have what we have set up.”
On Thursday, Oct. 15, Kittson County Public Health announced it diagnosed three more positive COVID-19 cases. On Friday, Oct. 16, they reported three more cases, two of whom are Kittson County residents, according to Public Health.
As of Monday afternoon, Oct. 19, the county had 16 active COVID-19 cases. Since April, the county has logged 33 cases. There were still results pending from other tests as the Enterprise went to press.
Public Health Director Cindy Urbaniak said on Monday alone, by noon, Kittson Healthcare diagnosed as many as seven new COVID-19 cases and by 5 p.m., the count rose with several pending cases.
“There is a connection with a few cases,” said Urbaniak, who did contact tracing calls on Monday. “But the rest aren’t sure where they were exposed.”
Many patients reported minor symptoms such as sore throat, fever and cold-like symptoms. Only a few indicated other symptoms, such as loss of taste or smell.
The students who were directly exposed to the student who tested positive are continuing to monitor their symptoms, Hunstad said. The school has worked with local and state public health officials to complete interviews for contact tracing.
He spoke with high school students, teachers, paraprofessionals and bus drivers, reiterating the importance of wearing masks even though they can be an inconvenience.
“I told them it’s an insurance policy,” Hunstad said. “If you wear it, your chances are better you’ll stay in school. And that’s what we all want – parents, students and teachers.”
School was able to resume as normal on Wednesday last week, as well as on Monday this week.
However, due to the positive case, the Kittson County Central Sports Co-op canceled a volleyball game last week and football practice, both on Tuesday, Oct. 13. However, practices and games resumed as normal later.
After each school day, Lancaster custodians use a Clorox 360 electrostatic sprayer to sanitize the entire building plus all the bus interiors.
“I don’t think there are many schools that do what we do. I would say we have gone above and beyond from the very onset, and we will continue to do so,” Hunstad said. “But we can’t control what people do outside our building.”
The Kittson Central School District was slightly impacted when sports were canceled Tuesday, but other than that, Superintendent Bob Jaszczak said school operations were unaffected.
“We’re just going to have to pay attention. But is this the tip of the iceberg or is this going to be an isolated case?” he said Thursday. “It’s hard to say.”
Kittson Central has not taken any extra precautions either, but cleaned as normal over the MEA weekend.
Public health reminds the public to monitor for the following symptoms: Temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or greater; chills; cough; new onset of shortness of breath; excessive fatigue; nausea; vomiting; diarrhea; sore throat; new muscle aches; new headache; new loss of smell or taste; and nasal congestion.
The best ways to stay healthy and protect others are to wear a mask, wash your hands and maintain a 6-foot distance between you and others.
Urbaniak noted that those who are in isolation because they have tested positive or in quarantine because they had close contact with a positive case are free to be outside in their own yard.
“As long as you’re socially distancing and not going across the street and visiting the neighbors, it’s fine,” Urbaniak said.
Contact your healthcare provider if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above. See the article on page 2 by Andrea Swenson, RN, director of clinic nursing and patient safety for more information.