Jacksonville School District 117 is announcing that there has been an outbreak at Jacksonville Middle School among staff only. Superintendent Steve Ptacek says that 5 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 linking back to an in-person event after students were out of the building more than a week ago: “We have experienced an increase in the number of staff members at JMS that have tested positive for COVID-19 that are all connected to one gathering that that group of staff members had. This highlights our need to stress the importance of maintaining social distancing even when students are not around. To ease the public’s fears, the minute the one of them that had a positive test, in close contact analysis, the other ones were also sent home to quarantine and that happened last week on October 20th and the 21st, so well over a week ago. Since then, of those others that we put on quarantine, we started getting results in from some of them testing positive. The last one of those to test positive was on Saturday.”
Ptacek says there is currently no evidence of COVID-19 spread at the school among any students: “Right at this point in time, there is no concern about anything happening at the school. Any of the students that might have shown any of the symptoms a week later that probably would have happened by now. The staff members themselves would have been gone by well over a week. What it is really putting more of a strain on is having to provide substitutes at this point in time, and fulfilling those duties.”
Ptacek says that overall the district has had no outbreaks in the schools among students: “At this point in time, positive cases attached to the school is zero all year. I think we only know of one student currently positive, and that is due to a family member outside of school. We have not had many instances in the school. We have 5 that are quarantined due to being in close contact with somebody who is at school that ended up testing positive, but that did occur some time ago and they are not showing any symptoms from what we know. We just need to be more diligent in stressing to our staff the importance of maintaining their social distancing; because what would have happened if everyone had maintained their social distancing, those 5 individuals outside of school would have, of course, been in the same situation [as the student who tested positive], they just wouldn’t have had any spread to the other staff members.”
Ptacek wants to stress social distancing after school among parents, students, and staff members to continue to keep the virus out of the district so in-person learning can continue. Ptacek says he will be sending out further e-mail communication tonight to parents about the ongoing efforts to keep students safe during the pandemic.