Potential virus exposure closes Williston schools for second day


WILLISTON, VT — As Williston prepares for a second day of school closures, state health and education officials are working out more specific guidelines for other schools that may be affected by the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

Williston Central School and Allen Brooke School were closed on Monday, and will closed Tuesday. Parents weren’t notified of the closing until early Monday morning, and before school officials could notify the state Department of Health and the Agency of Education, said Meagan Roy, acting superintendent of the Champlain Valley School District.

“We made the decision late yesterday morning based on the information we had at the time and without the opportunity to contact the department of health and agency of education,” said Roy.

One person has tested positive for COVID-19. That patient is being treated in an airborne infection isolation room at a hospital. More than 220 other Vermonters are being monitored. Nearly three dozen people have tested negative.

Eileen McCoy has a daughter at Allen Brook School. She said she was surprised when she heard there wouldn’t be any school Monday.

“But I understand I’d rather keep everyone healthy today really thinking about a school there is a place that there are some medically fragile children,” said McCoy. 

The shutdown was prompted by information that a staff member had traveled to an out-of-state hotel late last month where other guests have since tested positive for the coronavirus. The staff member, who has cold-like symptoms is self-quarantied and there is no confirmation that the symptoms are related to the virus.

“The Department of Health let us know that in general the employee did exactly what they should do,” said Roy.

Two schools in the Twin Valley Unified Union School District in Wilmington were closed Monday due to potential indirect exposure. Deputy Commissioner of Health Tracy Dolan said the agency is in close contact with school district around the state.

“We would really like schools to make these decisions based on public health,” Dolan said.

Meanwhile, in Williston, crews will continue to clean and disinfect the buildings before teachers, staff and students return as expected Wednesday.

“They’re getting the areas in the building that are the high touch areas, ya know, door handles, tables, technology,” said Bonnie Birdsall, CVSD’s director of Digital Learning and Communication. ” They’re also cleaning buses.”

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