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Orono school confirms its first confirmed COVID-19 case of the new year

No other students or staff have reported COVID-19 symptoms.

A member of the Orono Public School District has tested positive for COVID-19, the district has told families.

In a letter on Sunday, the district notified students, families and staff of the Orono Intermediate School, which serves students in grades 3-5, that someone within the school community tested positive for the coronavirus. 

It's the first lab-confirmed case of the coronavirus at the Orono Intermediate School, Orono Public Schools spokesperson Lyssa Campbell told BMTN on Monday. However, over the summer there was a reported case in the district's Early Childhood Program, at which time families in the program were notified. 

"We are grateful that the individual who tested positive is doing well and at this time we have not received any reports of other students or staff members experiencing illnesses with symptoms resembling those of COVID-19," the letter says. 

The district worked with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to identify the people who had close contact with the individual and communicated with them personally, the letter states. 

Campbell told BMTN the district does not share publicly how many people were notified about having close contact with the person who tested positive.

Meanwhile, the district decided to inform the entire school community of the positive test "out of an abundance of caution," noting that "The risk of exposure for individuals present in the building on those dates (Sept. 14-16) is no greater than the risk of contracting the virus in the general community," the letter says. 

According to the district's back to school plan, individuals who have close contact with someone who tests positive for the virus should stay home. Meanwhile, the letter says those who weren't notified of close contact with the person who tested positive don't need to stay home unless they develop symptoms. 

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Everyone in the school district is asked to monitor themselves for symptoms related to COVID-19, and parents of students are directed to submit a health screening every morning for their student, the district plan says.

"We understand that this may create unease in our community," the letter says, noting it is working with MDH to monitor the situation and continues to conduct daily health screenings of students and staff, daily cleaning and practicing frequent hand hygiene. 

The district's back to school plan says the district's health team will work with state and local health officials on contact tracing to determine close contacts, the need to notify others in the classroom or program and the risk level, noting each situation is different and will be handled on a case-by-case basis. 

Orono Public Schools started the 2020-2021 school year on Sept. 8, offering hybrid learning for students with the option of full-time distance learning.

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