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West Preston School employee tests positive for COVID-19

KINGWOOD— A West Preston School employee tested positive for COVID-19, school officials said Monday.

A letter was sent home to parents and calls made to them, to inform them of the situation.

In the letter, Assistant Superintendent Brad Martin said the school system is working with both the Preston and Monongalia County Health Departments on contact tracing to identify “any potentially impacted students or staff members considered to be a ‘close contact’ of the reported positive case.”

Students and staff were not sent home early Monday. Martin learned about 8:45 a.m. Monday of the diagnosis, he said.

“The students would not be sent home unless there was a determination that there was significant student exposure, which at this time the health department, based on the interviews, did not anticipate that any students would meet the definition of close contact under these circumstances,” Martin said.

The health department interviewed the individual and did contact tracing, Martin said Monday afternoon.

“Based on the contact tracing, they are identifying one additional individual to be quarantined or tested. That occurred early (Monday),” Martin said. “The health department is telling us that no students or staff are required to quarantine unless they are directly contacted by our health department.”

The central office dispatched two cleaning crews to West Preston, who worked with the cleaning staff there, Martin said.

“All areas that the individual would have been in at the school potentially were disinfected” and were not used Monday, Martin said. The Preston Health Department cleared them for use today, based on the cleaning, he said.

The contact tracing is focusing on close contacts, Martin said.

That is someone who had “unprotected direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case; a person having face-to-face contact with a COVID-19 case within six feet and for longer than 15 minutes; a person who was in a closed environment (meeting room, activity room, classroom, etc.) with a COVID-19 case for 15 minutes or more at a distance of less than six feet; or a person having had direct physical contact with a COVID-19 case (i.e., shaking hands),” according to the letter to parents.

Any student or staff who meets this criteria within the school setting as determined by the health department will be contacted directly by the health department.

This is the second week of school for Preston County students. Last week students returned to school on a staggered schedule, with a few grades attending each day.

That lessened possible student exposure, Martin noted.

West Preston has the second largest enrollment in the county, behind only Preston High.

According to the Preston County Health Department, Preston County has 123 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 20 probable cases. The county has had four deaths attributed to the virus, 136 recovered cases and three active cases.