Eighteen cases reportedly contained to one classroom; high school closed, sanitized this week

Pierce County High School will be closed through this Friday, October 30, due to an increase in positive COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases.

The school closed last Thursday, October 22, and all students transitioned to distance learning at that time. The school is scheduled to re-open for classes Monday, November 2.

“We made the  decision to transition to distance learning at PCHS due to several cases occurring in the same class,” said School Superintendent Dara Bennett. “We made the decision out of an abundance of caution.”

Bennett explained the high school had 18 students to test positive last week and almost all of the cases were traced to the same classroom at PCHS.

The Department of Public Health (DPH) recommends considering closure when a cluster of cases like this occurs to prevent further spread of the virus.

Bennett said the school is undergoing a deep cleaning while students have been out of class this week. All students who were considered close contacts of positive students have reportedly been contacted and told to quarantine for 14 days.

“We made the decision to go to distance learning primarily as a preventative measure,” said the superintendent.

Bennett said the decision was made to continue classes at all other schools in the system since there were “no outbreaks, there was no reason to move to distance learning in the other schools.”

Students in other schools who are siblings of high school students who tested positive have been told to quarantine as outlined in DPH guidelines.  

The DPH guidelines require  any person living in the same household of a positive person to quarantine for 14 days.  

“We have been following these guidelines from the first day of school,” said Bennett. “At the beginning of the year, I outlined the plan to go to distance learning if or when we ever felt it was needed due to COVID-19. The safety of our students and staff will continue to be the most important factor in making these decisions.”

During the closure of PCHS, students have been working from home.

Students have been getting their assignments online through Google Classroom.

Teachers and all PCHS faculty have been working from school and have been available by phone and Google Meet for support during this time, Bennett says.

Students were allowed to check out Chromebook computers to do their homework.

School meals were made available for pick up at the high school for students Monday.

All extracurricular activities have continued as scheduled during this time. Bennett explained extracurricular activities are outdoors where social distancing can be maintained. She also noted no COVID-19 cases have been reported among participants in extracurricular activities.

However, Friday night’s football game against Madison County, FL, has been canceled. Madison County School officials decided not to make the trip to Bearville after learning the school has closed and converted to virtual classes due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.