The Perham-Dent Public School was notified by the Minnesota Department of Health of a lab-confirmed case of COVID-19 in a member of the Perham High School community with an exposure date of Sept. 28, according to a release from the Perham-Dent Public School.
According to the release, the school is working with the Minnesota Department of Health and the Otter Tail County Public Health to identify those who had close contact with the case, and have communicated with them individually. The risk of exposure for other individuals present in the building on that date is no greater than the risk of contracting the virus in the general community.
According to the release, those who were not identified to have close contact with the positive case should still monitor for symptoms of illness but do not need to stay home unless symptoms develop. If symptoms develop, stay home, and consult with a physician to determine if a medical evaluation is needed.
“Our school district made the decision at the start of the school year to start in a more restrictive learning model (in-person at elementary and hybrid at high school),” Superintendent Mitch Anderson said in a statemnet from the Perham-Dent Public Schools. “This was intentionally done to provide a longer period of sustainability as we kick off a new school year. That decision has proven to be a wise one, as we have not had to make any major changes to our learning models at any level. However, with the recent increase in local and county confirmed COVID-19 cases it is important for all of us to start preparing for the "possibility" of a need to change models. By no means are we as a district hitting the "panic" button at this time, but the uptick in numbers has certainly gotten our attention both locally and county-wide. This week's Otter Tail County 14-day case rate reached its highest number of the year at 14.48. Using the "Recommended Policy Options" provided by the Minnesota Department of Education, that actually places us in the learning model recommendation that we selected to start the year. Using the graph below, the next change in learning models would come as a result of "sustained" county numbers in the 20-30 range. While that would mean no change for grades 7-12 that are already in hybrid, it would be a significant change for our elementary. We are simply asking you to start preparing now for this possibility.”
“It's important to understand that the county data is just one-factor school districts use as they consider changes to their learning models. Just because our county reaches the 20 mark will not automatically trigger a change in models. The school district will wait a few weeks to see if what we are experiencing is a short blip or the beginning of a surge. We will also look at the data for zip codes within our school district boundaries. Unfortunately, the largest increases in Otter Tail County over the last couple weeks have been in the Perham area,” Anderson said.
“While in-person instruction is what we want for all of our students, the main priority must continue to be the health, safety, and wellness of our students, staff, and community. We are continually making adjustments and changes to achieve this,” Anderson said. “For example, at a recent meeting with our school bus provider, Z Transportation, we made decisions to increase the safety of our bus riders. Students will soon be placed in assigned seats or designated rows on the bus. This is being implemented to help us with "tracing" in the event of a confirmed case on a bus. Instead of being forced to exclude all students from the bus in this situation, we can potentially reduce that number if we know where students are sitting in relation to the confirmed case. We also need to continue to enforce the wearing of masks at all times on the bus. Riding the bus is a privilege, not a right. Students that cannot follow the rules and expectations will eventually work themselves off the bus in order to protect the safety of others on the bus.”
According to the release, the school understands that this may create unease in the community and has taken action to clean and sanitize the facility and are working closely with MDH to monitor the situation. The school is asking all members of the community to minimize the spread of illness by taking the following actions:
Protect yourself and others by wearing a face-covering when it is hard to stay 6 feet away from people; washing your hands often with soap and water; covering your cough and sneeze; and avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands.
If are sick, stay home from child care and other activities.
Be prepared in case you get sick and need to stay home. Keep enough food, regular prescription drugs, and other necessities on hand in case you need to stay home and are not able to go out easily.
Frequently clean all commonly touched surfaces (e.g., telephones, doorknobs, countertops, etc.).
According to the release, if symptoms develop, stay home, and consult with a physician to determine if a medical evaluation is needed. For those experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health recommends:
1. Stay at home for at least 10 days, and for 24 hours with no fever and improvement of other symptoms; fevers should be gone for 24 hours without using fever-reducing medicine.
2. Use the CDC website on how to Care for yourself at Home with COVID-19.
3. If household contacts were exposed to a member with symptoms, they should try to stay home as much as possible for 14 days.
For more information visit:
MDH Coronavirus: health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/index.html
MDH If You Are Sick: health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/sick.html
CDC Coronavirus: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
Otter Tail County Public Health: ottertailcountymn.us/department/public-health/