By James Merolla
Supt. Colleen Burns Jermaine confirmed to the City Council Wednesday night, that one student was sent home from Pell School with a “probable” case of COVID-19, and one staff member of Thompson Middle School was sent home in the same manner.
Both are being tested with results pending.
City Manager Joe Nicholson, Jr. was giving his biweekly update on COVID-19 when he deferred to Jermain who spoke about the challenges opening up schools.
After discussing the complexities of serving lunches and some concerning transportation issues, Jermain revealed the single case at Pell, what she called a “possible” case of corona virus, but what the R.I. Dept. of Health (RIDOH) refers to as a “probable” test for COVID-19.
Jermain then explained how the staff took appropriate protocols, alerted nurses at RIDOH, and alerted parents in the same class. Later, she was alerted that a staff member at Thompson was sent home as a “probable.”
That staff member was sent to the local testing site, and, Jermain said, “We will take whatever steps we need to take, depending on what the test results are.” With the Thompson case, with “probable” cause, the school procedure is to shut down two classrooms there, which are thoroughly cleaned and the children are relocated to another classroom.
Overall, citywide, Nicholson shared what he called “distressing numbers.”
“I am concerned now about the numbers,” said Nicholson. “Our local numbers increased by 14, to a running total of 168. We haven’t had an increase like that since the beginning when the state began tracking the numbers.”
Nicholson did cite what he called a discrepancy in the numbers. RIDOH will get back to him and resolve why there are discrepancies in three separate posted charts.
“We have had a dramatic increase in testing in Newport,” he added. Students are back, of course, but Salve Regina University had only one positive case among the 2500 students the school tested in the past week, he said.
“I know it gets weary in the community, mask wearing, social distancing and washing your hands,” but they have to be perpetually emphasized, said Nicholson.
More on the Newport City Council meeting will be reported in the Sept. 24 edition of NTW.
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