Beachland Elementary School reopening after COVID shutdown

PHOTO BY BRENDA AHEARN

Beachland and Treasure Coast elementary schools were set to reopen this week after being shuttered because too many staff members were out with COVID-19.

Schools Superintendent David Moore said he expected Beachland Elementary to be at full staff Tuesday (Sept. 7) after the school closed down Aug. 27 because 14 educators had tested positive for the virus.

“God willing they’re faring well, we believe they are, and will be ready to return after the long, extended (Labor Day) weekend we all have deserved,” Moore said Friday. “They’ll be up and running and ready to go. We’ll be at full staff.”

A total of 16 out of the 51 staff members at Beachland Elementary had tested positive for the virus as of Sept. 2, the last day the school district’s COVID-19 statistics were updated. That’s about 31 percent of the staff.

A total of 29 students at the barrier island’s only public school tested positive for COVID-19 since schools reopened Aug. 10, the school district’s Sept. 2 COVID Dashboard shows.

“There will still be a few students who are on quarantine because they came down with COVID after the closure, which is what we anticipated happening,” Moore said. “But all in all, we’ll have that school back up at full strength.”

Treasure Coast Elementary is scheduled to reopen Friday (Sept. 10) after being closed Aug. 31 because more than a quarter of the staff had tested positive for COVID-19, Moore said.

A total of 12 staff members and 44 students had tested positive for COVID-19 since the school year started, the school district’s Sept. 2 COVID Dashboard shows.

“A high number of students were coming in sick and being sent for testing,” Moore said.

The short-term school closures were needed to get the virus under control, Moore said. “It was just the right move,” Moore said. “If we don’t make this move, we’re going to have extended closures.”

The presence of the virus in the public schools seems to have peaked in late August and started trending downward, Moore said.

“We think we’re in a very good place right now,” Moore said. “We have seen a drastic reduction over the course of the last week of positive (test results) for staff. We’re looking to maintaining that and continuing that downward trend.”

A total of 164 staff members had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Sept. 2, the district’s dashboard shows.

“Cases for students has leveled off,” Moore said. “I wouldn’t say it’s gone down yet.”

A total of 671 students have tested positive for the virus. A total of 826 students have been directed to quarantine after coming in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, the district’s dashboard shows.

“We have a high number of students who are quarantined, which is really making the life of a teacher hard because so many kids are out,” Moore said.

“As bad as it is now, it was worse last week,” Moore said. “What we’re seeing right now: There is a high correlation of quarantined students who are coming down with COVID, compared to last year.”

In other words, more students are being infected at school or during a school activity. That did not happen until February of the 2020-2021 school year, when a student who had been quarantined for close contact with a COVID-19 positive person at school had in turn been diagnosed with the virus, Moore said.

The school district’s updated strategies for reducing quarantines and enhancing health and safety procedures at schools will be presented to the School Board on Sept. 14, Moore said.

“We’re going to have to take on quarantines,” Moore said. “The last thing we want to do is keep a child home who is healthy and safe.”

“You have kids who are quarantined,” Moore said. “There are a high number of students who are out. It’s hard. We need to get them back in. That’s got to be Job No. 1.”

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