By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
Oxford Community Schools has reported eight cases of COVID-19 since school began, Aug. 31.
As of last weekend, there are at least five active cases: two at Oxford High School, one at Oxford Bridges High School, one at Oxford Virtual Academy and one presumptive case at Oxford Elementary. There are no active staff cases.
The two cases at OHS resulted in extensive contact tracing with the Oakland County Health Division (OCHD). “The county epidemiologists have assured us that there is no link between the student cases and, at this time, there is no evidence of transmission within our schools,” said Jill Lemond, Director of District Safety Operations for Oxford Community Schools.
In both cases, the families quickly communicated the positive test results and kept the students at home after symptoms appeared. The students have not been in school since early last week. All regularly scheduled classes were able to continue, and most students were still able to attend, except for those receiving specific quarantine notices.
The affected classrooms on the positive student’s schedule have undergone extensive disinfecting treatment as an additional precaution. Parents of students in each of those classrooms will receive a limited exposure notice, but they will have no action items, according to Lemond. Parents are asked to watch their child for any symptoms of COVID-19 through Oct. 6 and to get tested if symptoms develop.
On Sunday, Sept. 27, the schools were notified of a presumptive case at Oxford Elementary School. There was no school on Friday, so the last date of potential exposure was Thursday, September 24.
“We appreciate that the family quickly communicated positive test results and we are in the process of confirming those results with Oakland County Health Division,” Lemond wrote in an email to parents.
“The OCHD will likely assign an investigator to this case to perform contact tracing and determine if any individual students should be quarantined. Based on the information we have right now and knowing the protocol followed at Oxford Elementary, we are comfortable with students in the affected classroom returning to class.”
Two positive cases were also confirmed at OES Sept. 18. The positive cases were members of the same household and were only in school on Sept. 15. The two cases were not classified as an “outbreak” because the two students live together. The two cases are no longer active.
On Tuesday, Sept. 22, OCHD confirmed an Oxford Middle School student had COVID-19. The student had not been to school for several days, however, and was not in the building during the 48-hour period prior to symptom onset. The individual was already in quarantine due to exposure to a case outside of school. The case is no longer active.
Students (and staff) who test positive or exhibit coronavirus symptoms must stay home. If they attend school and symptoms arise, they will be sent home. Students must be 24-hours symptom/fever free before returning to school. Additionally, they must meet one of the following qualifications to return:
1. Ten calendar days of self-isolation OR
2. A doctor’s note with an alternate diagnosis OR
3. A negative COVID test
The district has removed all attendance incentives in order to make safety the number one factor for determining daily attendance.
When medical facilities report positive coronavirus test results to the county, any positive case of a student or staff member triggers an investigation by the OCHD. “We have forged a good relationship with the local team of epidemiologists and we are mindful of the district’s obligations to report cases,” Lemond said. “We will continue to communicate as much information as we can about exposures or close contacts without infringing on the privacy rights of our staff and students.”
In the event of a positive case, OCHD will use information learned from the patient and the district to determine who needs to be notified or quarantined. The district will send more general notifications to the buildings or programs affected “as a courtesy and an act of transparency.” In most instances, there will be no further action needed by students in those buildings.
To date, all of the district’s COVID-19 communications have been posted to its website, OxfordSchools.org, under the “Safety and Security” tab.
The district posts individual building communications in addition to district-wide communications.