GROTON, N.Y. — A positive COVID-19 test from a student at Groton Junior-Senior High School has sent several teachers and students into quarantine as the school and health department hopes to prevent any wider outbreak among students or staff.

The case was confirmed Monday morning by the Tompkins County Health Department, though they said they would not confirm how many students were placed into quarantine. Groton Central School District Superintendent Margo Martin said the district had not been told how many students were put into quarantine either, but she did say three teachers and a teacher’s assistant had been ordered into quarantine as a result of the positive case. The student who tested positive, according to the Health Department, did not attend school while symptomatic and is currently in isolation—they are the only confirmed positive test so far.

According to a message sent out by the school, the health department completed its contact tracing investigation yesterday and notified Groton Central School District of the test.

“I want to assure our school community that we are taking all necessary steps to protect staff and students and communicate closely with the Health Department,” Groton Central School District Superintendent Margo Martin said. “While it is disconcerting to have this first case in our district, we are confident that the Health Department’s contact tracing and our reopening plan are working to stop the spread and keep people healthy. Throughout the pandemic, the Health Department has shown success in containing the spread of COVID-19 by implementing these thorough methods. This is not a time for fear, panic or rumors. Those who have been impacted have been notified and are safely in quarantine so that the rest of us can continue following COVID-19 protocols and keep our students in school.”

In an interview, Martin said the school’s nightly disinfection and sanitization protocols were strong enough that the health department decided they did not have to pause in-person learning, bolstered by the fact that the student had missed most of the last week of school due to their symptoms. The school was already utilizing a model that allows students who are out of school to watch live-streamed classes from home.

Tompkins County Public Health Director Frank Kruppa said “Groton has implemented thorough reopening plans and safety precautions to decrease the risk of exposure, including a daily health screening application in partnership with the Cayuga Medical System. We are working closely with Superintendent Martin and school officials to ensure that precautions are being taken to stop the spread, and to make sure students, families and staff have the information they need to stay safe and healthy.”

It’s not the first positive test in a primary school setting locally, though it is the first publicly reported coronavirus case since schools began to reopen for the new academic year. DeWitt Middle School confirmed a positive case among their students last school year.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com