Dartmouth High community member tests positive for virus

Oct 4, 2020

Officials have long said they expected a member of Dartmouth’s school community to test positive for Covid-19 at some point — and even before in-person classes start in earnest for elementary students on Oct. 5, that expectation is now a reality.

In a letter sent to Dartmouth High School parents on Oct. 4, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bonny Gifford announced that a “member of our school community” had tested positive for the coronavirus, though she did not specify whether the person was a student or staff member.

“We have planned for this scenario during our reopening process,” she wrote, adding that anyone identified as a close contact “would have been notified by the building nurse and contacted by the Board of Health.”

“Our first responsibility is to keep our students and staff safe,” Gifford added. “We will work together to follow protocols as we navigate this challenging time.”

Since Sept. 15, high schoolers have been learning remotely, with in-person interactions limited to athletic practices, games, and socially distanced band performances for the time being.

The news comes as Covid-19 cases are surging across the US, with President Trump currently battling the illness in hospital and several states ordering at least some high-risk school districts to shut their doors after reopening.

More than 213,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the US this year. 

Dartmouth has also seen a recent uptick as cases more than doubled to 18 in the week ending Sept. 26. Thus far, 494 people have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began in the spring.

Meanwhile, those in Pre-K through Grade 2, plus Grade 6 began in-person orientation on Oct. 1 or 2 as part of the district’s hybrid plan. At a joint School Committee and Select Board meeting on Sept. 21, Gifford said she anticipates all the schools will be operating under the hybrid model by Oct. 19. 

In Massachusetts, there have been 132,440 positive cases as of Oct. 4, or 2.1% of the commonwealth’s population. 9,295 people have died of the virus in the state since the pandemic began.