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Six Carbon County teachers quarantined during first week of school due to COVID-19 exposure

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Posted at 5:33 PM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-22 18:07:15-04

CARBON COUNTY, Utah -- Six teachers in the Carbon School District are in quarantine after one of them tested positive for COVID-19.

This comes during the school district’s first week of school.

School did not officially start for students until Wednesday. By that time, one of the teachers already knew she was sick.

“We were hoping that it would take a lot longer for that to happen,” said district Superintendent Lance Hatch.

On their third day of school, parents received a message from the district which read: “One Carbon High School teacher tested positive for COVID-19. The teacher did not teach this week and did not come into contact with students.”

Hatch said the teacher did go to lunch with some of the other teachers on Monday.

“The colleagues are not symptomatic at all,” said Hatch. “But in an abundance of caution, our health department has asked them to quarantine.”

Carbon County has 20,000 people living there and nine schools within the district.

There are 3,500 students and 250 teachers total.

Bradon Bradford, the Southeast Utah Health Department director, said they anticipated an increase in positive cases at the beginning of the school year.

“A shift like this, going back to school, there is increase in risk for students and teachers,” said Bradford. “But we also have the ability to manage it in a way that we couldn’t do in the summer.”

Knowing the students' schedules and extracurricular activities helps the health department keep track of who the students have been in contact with.

“It doesn’t mean there will be fewer contacts — in fact, there may be more contacts,” said Bradford.

With extra precautions in place, being in school is what both Bradford and Hatch have decided is best for students.

“It does look different and it does feel different,” said Hatch. “We’re spending more time on sanitization than I ever dreamed we would.”

The Carbon School District does have a plan set in place should they need to shut down classrooms or even the school for 14 days.

Students are equipped for online learning, and teachers for remote teaching.

The five quarantined teachers will start teaching remotely on Monday.