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Herrin High School sends home about 2 dozen students after one tests positive for COVID-19
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Herrin High School sends home about 2 dozen students after one tests positive for COVID-19

Herrin High School building building mug herrin high

Herrin High School is pictured in 2014. About two dozen students were sent home Thursday after one student tested positive for COVID-19.

HERRIN — Herrin High School sent home about two dozen students Thursday morning after one tested positive for COVID-19.

District Superintendent Terry Ryker said that as soon as the school was notified that the student had tested positive, officials reviewed class assignments and seating charts and quickly moved to quarantine the other students while contacting their parents to notify them and arrange for transportation.

None of the affected students had taken a school bus, he said.

Ryker said the student who tested positive did attend class this week, including on Thursday. Students began classes only two days prior, on Tuesday.

The student had only minor symptoms. But Ryker said he wanted to stress that parents should keep their children home if they have a COVID-19 test pending even if they do not think their child is sick.

“Any student that has any type of symptoms related to COVID needs to stay home, and if they’re undergoing protocol for testing they need to stay home until their results come in,” he added.

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Ryker said that Franklin-Williamson Bi-County Health Department will conduct official contact tracing, the process by which health department officials notify close contacts of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. But the district wanted to act immediately to notify students within close contact in the school building, and their families, of potential exposure. Ryker said that transparency with the school community is critical to reopening.

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“We didn’t want it to come from the health department. We wanted it to come from the school,” he said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines a close contact as someone who was within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more of a person who tests positive.

About 700 students attend Herrin High School. Of them, about 120 students chose the remote-only learning option this year. The isolated student and those who were quarantined will transition into the remote-only learning plan, though will have the ability to return once cleared to resume normal activity by the local health department, Ryker said. Typically, a quarantine period lasts for 14 days.

Herrin is the first regional school district to announce a positive COVID-19 case of a student who had been in class. Prior to the start of school, Marion High School's Athletics Department notified the public via a social media post that a student in the football program had tested positive. And in West Frankfort also prior to the start of school, the superintendent and other office staff were quarantined after an individual in the administrative office tested positive. 

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On Twitter: @MollyParkerSI ​

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