Kodiak elementary school closes after positive COVID-19 test

A Kodiak elementary school has been closed temporarily, after someone at the school tested positive for COVID-19.

School Superintendent Larry LeDoux says public health officials notified the district Wednesday afternoon that a person at Peterson Elementary School has tested positive for the virus. He says privacy guidelines prevent him from saying whether that person is a student or a staffer.

LeDoux says the process of contact tracing is underway. The district defines “close contact” as being with somebody for 15 minutes or more and within six feet.

“So, let’s say if a student in a classroom was positive, or a staff member that worked in that classroom,” LeDoux said, “it’s safe to assume all the students in that class would be considered a close contact.”

LeDoux says, under state guidelines, every close contact would have to be quarantined for fourteen days – which means all students who were identified as close contacts would have to stay home during that period.

He says the first step will be to notify all staffers and families of students of those who were potentially exposed to the virus. The superintendent also says there will be a deep cleaning and disinfection of the school on Thursday, with close attention paid to areas where students and staffers may have interacted with the student or staffer who tested positive.

Peterson Elementary is scheduled to reopen on Friday, but classrooms in which students and staffers, who have been identified as close contacts, will be taught remotely for up to 14 days.

The superintendent says the district is well prepared. Boxes of materials are ready to be sent out to homes. Other students, who are not close contacts, will be able to return to school on Friday.

Elsa DeHart, Kodiak’s Public Health Nurse, says the Peterson School case is connected to a cluster of six cases reported at the Kodiak Coast Guard air station. The school is located near the base and Coast Guard housing.

The Coast Guard confirmed two positive tests on Tuesday and two more on Wednesday. DeHart says there are another two cases connected to the base.

Since April, the Coast Guard outbreak brings the total number of COVID-19 cases reported in the region to 80. Currently there are seven cases classified as active locally.

DeHart credited the Coast Guard for quick action to limit the spread of this cluster of cases, which so far have been limited to close contacts. She says the Coast Guard’s policies are more stringent than what state public health officials require.

“They take good care of their members,” she said, “and allow them to stay home if they need to.”

She urged parents to stay calm — that every family with a student identified as a close contact will be notified. Parents with children who are not considered close contact will not be called, DeHart said.

Superintedent Larry LeDoux sent a letter home to parents and urged them to call the district if they have more questions.

Read Superintendent Larry LeDoux’s letter to parents:

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