Recent confirmed COVID-19 cases at several schools across the region have local school administrators asking families and other community members to continue taking the virus seriously as 2021 begins and vaccine distribution slowly rolls out in Vermont.

On Monday, Jan. 11 positive cases were reported at three different Lamoille County schools. Johnson Elementary School, Lamoille Union High School and Peoples Academy Middle Level all had one confirmed positive case discovered between last Friday and when students returned to school Monday.

A fourth school just outside the county, Hardwick Elementary School, also had a positive case confirmed Monday.

An uptick in COVID in schools during the fall, when students first returned to in-person learning, prepared school officials to better deal with minor outbreaks like those reported earlier this week. Only one pod of students switched over to remote learning temporarily at Lamoille Union after the positive case, as did one classroom at Johnson Elementary. At Peoples the entire middle level went to remote learning Tuesday, but that was to be a one-day switch for contact tracing to continue before students return to the school, according to Lamoille South Superintendent Tracy Wrend.

No additional cases have been reported at any of the four schools by Tuesday, Jan. 12.

State officials have said that the current spike in positive cases across Vermont is due in part to holiday gatherings. With that in mind, and with some Vermonters seeming to grow weary of the health protocols put in place to slow the spread of the disease, school officials have been sending out district-wide messages asking families to stay vigilant and continue to be safe as more vaccines are distributed.

Those messages detail current safety restrictions, along with safe practices for people to follow and how to handle any potential exposure.

Regarding current state-mandated restrictions on gatherings, schools are recommending:

• Not gathering with those outside your immediate household.

• If you live alone, choose just one household to socialize with.

• Outdoor recreation is OK with people you don’t live with, as long as you remain masked and 6 feet apart.

Regarding proper health and safety protocols:

• Stay home if you are sick.

• Wash your hands frequently.

• Wear a mask when in public or around people outside your immediate household.

• Stay 6 feet away from people who aren’t in your immediate household.

• If you are going to be around people outside your household, do so outdoors and avoid large crowds.

• Contact your primary care provider if you have questions about your or your student’s health, or if anyone in your household has COVID-19 symptoms.

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