Homer High School. (Homer News file photo)

Homer High School. (Homer News file photo)

Homer High has 1st COVID-19 case since reopening

Close contacts have been quarantined; school schedule not interrupted

Homer High School had its first positive case of COVID-19 this past Friday, about two weeks after in-person education resumed at Kenai Peninsula Borough School District schools. The case caused little interruption to the school’s schedule, however.

A case of COVID-19 was identified in either a student or staff member on Friday, according to Principal Doug Waclawski. Because the high school and school district adhere to health and student privacy laws, schools do not specify whether cases are associated with a student or a staff member, and their identities are not published.

Through contact tracing, those who had close contact with the positive case have been identified and quarantined, according to a letter Waclawski sent to parents, provided to the Homer News.

“We knew this might happen, we planned for it and our mitigation plan is working,” Waclawski wrote in the letter. “I’m thankful everyone is doing a great job following the mitigation plans and very few people had to quarantine because of it.”

The school will continue notifying parents whenever there is a positive case, the letter states.

Because the case was identified on a Friday right before a weekend, and due to the school’s already increased level of sanitation inside the building, the positive case did not disrupt the school schedule. Homer High remained open on Monday for its B group of students. Students currently attend Homer High School in two groups split up according to where their names fall in the alphabet. Half the school’s students attend for one full week while the other half learns remotely, and then they switch.

Group A went to remote learning this week while group B returned to the building on Monday.

Pegge Erkeneff, director of communications, community and government relations for the school district, said in an email that the district has identified new positive cases in various district schools on a weekly basis over the last several months. During a COVID-19 spike in November and December, the district was identifying new cases daily.

“This is a good reminder of the importance of following the plans schools have in place, and how sneaky this virus is,” Erkeneff wrote.

Homer High School’s football team was quarantined this past fall when two coaches tested positive for COVID-19.

A new weekly report tracking the new positive COVID-19 cases within the school district, including students and staff, is in the works, Erkeneff said. It will hopefully be published on the district’s website later this week or early next week, she said.

Parents and community members are urged to keep their social bubbles small and to follow precautionary steps if they or a family member notices any symptoms of COVID-19, according to Waclawski’s letter. Those steps are isolating and getting tested, and in the case of a student, keeping the student home from school and notifying the school nurse or KPBSD nurse at 907-260-2391.

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

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