Continental School

Continental Elementary School District placed a fifth-grade class in quarantine this week after six students turned up positive for COVID-19.

In their Governing Board meeting Tuesday, Superintendent Roxana Rico-Beaucage said they had to send the classroom of fifth-graders into remote learning.

Principal DeAnna Cuevas said they contacted a liaison with the Pima County Health Department, who recommended they shut down the class. 

“Over the course of two school days we had six kids who tested positive for COVID in the fifth-grade classroom, that cohort,” she said. “Right before we went to winter break was one that had a lot of cases, two of our teachers tested positive and it started to spread through that whole cohort. So to stop the spread, that’s why that decision was made.”

Cuevas also said some students and staff already contracted COVID-19, and are getting reinfected.

“Some of those students already had it in less than two months and are getting it again,” she said. “We have had some others who were infected at the beginning of November and have it again in a less than 90-day window.”

Rico-Beaucage said they don’t have specific numbers on how many staff and students have been positive twice.

Cuevas also said students are getting fevers more frequently than they did in previous semesters.

“Another thing we’re starting to see with perhaps this variant that we were not seeing before is that students who are falling ill are having fevers,” she said. “That wasn't something that was not occuring in the past.”

Rico-Beaucage said last semester they had to shut down a first- and a second-grade classroom at different times, and it worked.

“We didn't have to close any other classes,” she said. “We were anticipating after winter break we would have more people testing positive.”

Parents have been cooperative when it comes to going to remote learning.

“We have parents who are supportive and in agreement who are also still very leery that we don't have a mandatory mask mandate,” she said. “We still have some parents feeling that since we don’t have a mask mandate they are OK with trying to help mitigate COVID and willing to keep kids home for virtual instruction.”

Testing on-site has remained a challenge for their district nurse, who has been working on weekends to complete paperwork to the PCHD. On Tuesday alone, she tested 40 people.

In an attempt to lessen the load of the nurse, CESD posted a job for a part-time health clerk in December who would complete paperwork and tracking related to COVID-19.

They have received no applications and will possibly discuss a stipend for the nurse’s extra work in their next board meeting.

Rico-Beaucage also said that Tuesday, several other districts contacted them to see if their students could be tested at CESD.

As of Friday, according to CESD's COVID-19 dashboard, there are 117 people in quarantine, 110 students and seven staff. There are 55 active cases, including seven staff members.

Rico-Beaucage said they will continue to keep students in school as much as they can. 

"As long as we have teachers and substitutes available to cover classrooms, we will stay the course," she said. 

The fifth-grade class will come out of quarantine Monday.

Jamie Verwys | 520-547-9728 

Reporter

Reporter Jamie Verwys grew up in Sahuarita and graduated from the high school in 2006. She lives in Tucson and graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2018.

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