North Providence superintendent says Department of Health failed to promptly notify schools of positive COVID test – News –

NORTH PROVIDENCE — Supt. Joseph Goho said the Department of Public Health failed to contact school officials on Sunday after the agency learned that a student tested positive for COVID-19 the same day.

In a letter to parents, Goho wrote, “The situation at the high school was exacerbated by the fact that RIDOH became aware of a positive student’s COVID-19 result early Sunday morning, and evidently RIDOH notified the student’s family at that time.

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“However, RIDOH did not notify the district or the high school administration on the day that the positive test was discovered … as is protocol, nor did RIDOH initiate contact tracing for the high school on Sunday, which also is protocol.”

In his letter, Goho said RIDOH told the department of the positive case on Monday morning at approximately 8:30 a.m., an hour after school began.

Goho said that potentially exposed dozens of staff and students to individuals who had close contact with the test positive student.

The Health Department began contact tracing at 8:30 a.m.

“Furthermore, a high school student listed by RIDOH as having to quarantine as a close contact to the positive case two days earlier, showed up to school on Monday and stated that there was no call received from RIDOH directing the quarantine, and therefore the student was unaware,” Goho wrote.

Goho said a similar issue occurred at Birchwood Middle School where a close contact of a student who tested positive reported to school Monday. That student also told the school that they didn’t get a call from the health department.

“I have been in contact with RIDOH, RIDE, and the Governor’s office regarding these circumstances,” Goho said, “and I thought it was important to share this information with the community and our staff in full transparency.”

North Providence High School will transition to exclusively distance learning for the next two weeks, after two students tested positive for coronavirus and with about 100 students directed to quarantine.

The news was announced by Goho on Monday.

Goho said that the high school has “approximately 16-20 staff absences and unfilled positions related to quarantine/COVID during this time period,” and noted that there is a shortage of substitute teachers.

The high school will be placed on distance learning through Oct. 19. After that, the school will come back on a hybrid model.

The school will be closed for deep cleaning on Tuesday, Goho said, and teachers will report to provide remote instruction from Wednesday through Oct. 19.

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