Updated: Nine Positive Covid-19 Test Results Among Schools’ Staff, Students In October

Schools Superintendent John Ravally said the fact that nine students and staff tested positive for the coronavirus in October was not the “direct reason” the district started an in-school testing program. (File photo).

Update: An outside contractor in contact with the district’s alternative program has tested positive for the coronavirus, district spokeswoman Mary Clark said on November 2.

Original Story: Nine students and staff in township schools tested positive for the coronavirus during October, but that won’t affect the district’s hybrid opening plan, a district spokeswoman said on November 1.

Four staff members – one at Franklin High School, one from the Central Office, one at Claremont Elementary School and one from the Transportation Department – reported positive tests between October 5 and 29, district spokeswoman Mary Clark said.

Five students –  two from the program at MacAfee Road School, one from Claremont Elementary School and two from Franklin High School – also tested positive for the virus during that time span, she said.

Most of the district’s students are learning remotely, and have been since school started. Only special needs students and students who receive special therapies – approximately 173 students – were brought in to the schools for in-person sessions.

There are also about 20 students in the Road to Success program at the high school.

Clark said that after each positive result was reported, the district followed the procedure outlined in its Restart and Recovery Plan to Reopen Schools.

“The district liaison contacts the Somerset County Health Department which begins contact tracing,” she said in an email. “The district, following the advice of the (Somerset) County Health Department, provides a ‘notice to quarantine’ letter to any staff or student who was in close contact with the person who tested positive.”

“The quarantine period is typically 14 days,” Clark wrote. “Additionally, a general letter is sent to staff and students who were in the area of the person who tested positive, but not in close contact with him/her, so those individuals can be alert for any symptoms.”

The district began a program to test township students and staff on October 28. Initially, 38 students and staff members were tested at Franklin High School and Claremont Elementary School.

Schools Superintendent John Ravally said the testing program was not a “direct result” of the incidents of positive test results, but “we feel it can certainly help inform our decisions regarding schools moving forward.”

“The opportunity for in school Covid 19 testing is a Township wide initiative that many schools, public and private, are participating in and is something that the District organized with the Township’s help to protect all families in the Franklin Community,” he said in an email.

Board of Education president Nancy LaCorte said the positive test results would not affect the district’s plan to begin the hybrid school plan on November 30.

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