Virus spike hits Wellsville students, parents

Greg Mast
All USD 289 in-person activities were suspended until Wednesday atter four students and two parents tested positive for coronavirus recently. High school athletes' summer conditioning and weight program started on June 1. [HERALD FILE PHOTO].

WELLSVILLE — The Wellsville community is fighting an outbreak of the coronavirus.

There have been four students and two parents in the district that recently tested positive for COVID-19, Ryan Bradbury, Wellsville superintendent, said in a release Sunday night.

“We understand that in the world of social media, etc., that at times a family may learn of the positive test and share that information before the district receives confirmation,” Bradbury said. “We appreciate the communication we have received from families as it allows us to move through the process at a quicker pace with confirmed information. Please know that we are working hard to share information in a timely manner, but we want to ensure we are sharing accurate and confirmed information.”

The district is suspending all in-person student activities until Wednesday, while additional information is gathered about this situation, Bradbury said.

The district began summer conditioning and weights for athletes on June 1 in accordance to all KSHSAA and county regulations.

“While none of these cases are linked to the food service program, out of an abundance of caution the summer food service program is suspended as well,” Bradbury said.

Monday’s school board meeting was a virtual meeting instead of an in-person meeting.

“The district is in contact with the Franklin County Health Department and is following all guidelines and recommendations regarding this matter,” Bradbury said. “As organizations and entities across the state begin to reopen, the chance of COVID-19 impacting USD 289 increases. We are working with the health department to review any impacts to any other USD 289 events and activities.”

The county health department performed drive-through testing Thursday in the high school parking lot.

The drive-through testing is a joint effort between the Franklin County Health Department, Franklin County Emergency Management, Wellsville USD 289, the City of Wellsville, the Wellsville Police Department and the Ottawa Family Physicians Lab Staff, county officials said.

The drive-through testing was open to Wellsville residents only and/or those who have children in the Wellsville School District.

Contact tracing of positive test results in this area has proven to be an issue, county officials said. Studies suggest close contacts can develop symptoms up to 14 days after interaction. Any student who has been contacted by the school district or the health department pertaining to being in direct contact with a positive individual and has been referred for testing and should still quarantine for 14 days before going out in public.

This past weekend, Franklin County received eight positive tests to bring the total to 65 positive cases as of Monday evening. The health department is waiting on 147 pending test results. The county has just under 1,600 negative tests.

Health department statistics reveal 11 people ages 11-20 has contracted the disease, which ranks second behind the 51-60 age bracket with 16 cases.

Bradbury said several students will be tested as close contacts. The district is assisting the health department with the process that started Monday.

“The Franklin County Health Department will be in contact with any direct contacts of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 and making determinations/recommendations on when a person and or family members should be quarantined,” Bradbury said. “USD 289 takes the health and safety of our students and staff very seriously and we will continue to work with health officials to continue to protect the health and safety of all students and staff in the best way possible. We encourage parents to continue to encourage all family members to practice good hygiene and virus prevention practices.”

The county remained in phase 3 of the governor’s Ad Astra re-opening plan because of the recent spike in positive cases. County officials will monitor the COVID-19 situation over the next two weeks and move to the ‘Phase Out’ portion of the plan when appropriate.

Franklin County Administrator Derek Brown said there were several reasons behind the decision to remain in the third phase.

“First and foremost, Franklin County’s active cases are currently trending upward, despite a growing number of individuals who have refused to be tested,” he said. “Moving into a new phase will give the impression that we are on a downward trend, which is not the case. Also, with every advancement in phases, we see residents continue to become more relaxed and less-likely to follow recommended guidelines. Finally, we continue to see states that have been more aggressive in opening up previously, now are seeing large numbers of positive cases.”