NHS notifies families of positive COVID test

Chad Frey
A COVID-19 case was found in a person who had been at Newton High School on Sept. 18.

A letter was sent to parents of students at Newton High School stating there had been an individual who was at Newton High School that has tested positive for COVID-19.

Citing privacy concerns, district officials would not confirm if the individual was a student, staff member or visitor to the building. The last time the person was on campus at Newton High School was Sept. 18.

“The person did not expose any other students or staff,” said Matt Treaster, president of the Board of Education in a text to The Newton Kansan. “So no other people need to be quarantined.”

Newton USD 373 public information officer Samantha Anderson confirmed in a text to The Newton Kansan that there is a “positive case at Newton High School.” The district was notified of the positive test on Sept. 26.

“Our high school, like all of our schools, are taking extensive measures to ensure the safety of those in our buildings,” Anderson said. “We are trying to lower exposure as much as possible. Our maintenance crews have been working extremely hard to wipe down surfaces and keep our buildings sanitized. Each classroom has a sanitation bottle they use to wipe down desks between classes. Additionally, students and staff are required to wear masks unless they have a doctor’s note and are getting temperature checked at the door.”

The letter stated that steps have been taken for the safety of students and staff at the school.

“Rest assured, USD 373 takes this matter very seriously,” wrote principal Caleb Smith in the letter. “We have already sanitized the areas on campus that the positive individual frequented.”

Smith wrote that the incident was “outside of our control,” and if a student was in “close proximity” to the positive individual that families will be notified.

“The Harvey County Health Department will be contacting you soon with additional instructions, if they have not done so already.”

Smith then listed the symptoms of COVID-19 for parents and encouraged anyone with any of the symptoms — including fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, body aches, headaches, loss of taste, loss of smell, sore throat, congestion, runny nose, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea — to seek medical care from a physician.

The exposure was not discussed during the public Board of Education meeting Monday. Following a review of COVID-19 statistics of infection trend, the district remains in a green mode of operation. The board extended that mode through Oct. 16. Under the green mode, students at all grade levels enrolled in the flexible plan will be in school all day, every day.

This letter was sent to families of students at Newton High School to inform them of a positive COVID-19 case at the school.