Meanwhile, only one positive result so far from asymptomatic testing
Just over a week after East Greenwich students returned to the classroom, Supt. Alexis Meyer revealed that she tested positive for COVID-19 during Tuesday’s virtual School Committee meeting.
Meyer said before the meeting began that she had tested positive for COVID-19 earlier that day. It is not known how Meyer contacted the virus but she said she got tested after experiencing symptoms.
“I feel fine however,” she said in an interview after the meeting, in which she participated as usual.
During the meeting, Meyer said COVID-19 cases in EG students had doubled since Dec. 17. According to data Meyer presented from the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), 72 students and 22 school staff members have tested positive since in-person school began in September – up from 36 students and 14 staff as of Dec. 17. This data does not include students who are enrolled in full distance learning, Meyer said.
“That’s just an important milestone and certainly something that wasn’t unexpected and has been predicted post-holiday celebration,” Meyer said regarding the increase in positive student and staff cases.
Meyer also offered the first wave of results for the district’s asymptomatic testing program. Of the 193 staff tested, all were negative. The district also tested asymptomatic student-athletes and there was one positive out of more than 200 tests. However, she said, although the tests are highly accurate, they are only accurate for that moment. Someone can contact the virus shortly after. Additionally, COVID-19 can develop days or even weeks after initial exposure.
“[A negative asymptomatic test] doesn’t clear you for eternity, if you will,” Meyer said. “The purpose of conducting asymptomatic testing in a district is to gauge the extent of the virus that is existing in your district. but I can tell you an example of somebody that in our district that – it’s not me – tested negative on Tuesday but was positive on Thursday, so it’s a really short window.”
The school district will continue to require students and staff who live with someone who has tested positive or have traveled to a location with a positivity rate of over 5 percent to quarantine for 14 days. For those who have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 who does not live in their household, they can reduce the quarantine period from 14 to 10 days if proof of a negative test result on day 7 of quarantine is provided to the school.
RIDOH also allows schools to offer a seven-day quarantine option with a negative test on day five. However, East Greenwich does not offer this option. Meyer, quoting RIDOH data, said that while the 10-day post-quarantine transmission risk is about 1 percent, or 0.3 percent if there is a negative test on day 10, a seven-day quarantine with a negative test on day five has a post-quarantine transmission rate of about 5 percent.
After Meyer opened the floor to questions, School Committee Member Tim Munoz asked if Meyer knew of any updates regarding if or when faculty and staff will receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Meyer said that she and other school administrators around the state are pushing for faculty and staff to receive higher priority for vaccination, but said she had no updates about when teachers would be eligible for the vaccine.
You can watch the entire meeting HERE. Their next meeting is Tuesday, Feb. 2.