WESTFIELD, NJ — Another Westfield High School student has tested positive for coronavirus, and at least 30 other students have been ordered to self-quarantine after reporting that they had contact with someone infected with the virus, the school district’s superintendent said Friday.
Superintendent Margaret Dolan’s announcement comes after six Westfield High School students tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week, prompting the school to switch to remote instruction and cancel extracurricular activities, including athletics, until Oct. 1.
The state Health Department requires remote learning to be put in place when at least two students in different classrooms are infected with the coronavirus and the source of exposure is unknown, Westfield Board of Health President Lawrence Budnick said.
While an initial report from the Westfield Regional Health Department indicated the first six cases were not linked, new information reported by parents of infected students reveal that they may be connected, according to Dolan.
She said that exposure to the virus occurred outside of Westfield High School, and families with positive coronavirus cases will proactively quarantine. Dolan did not specify how the cases were connected, and she stood by the district’s decision to move to all-remote learning for two weeks.
“Because of this evidence of community spread, the Department of Health guidelines call for a school to close for 14 days,” Dolan said in her announcement on Friday. “This decision was made, and reviewed again today, by both local and state public health officials.”
Also on Friday evening, Mayor Shelley Brindle reported two new coronavirus cases, not including the one reported by the schools Friday, and provided more context around eight cases discovered Sept. 11 – 17. Two cases were aged 17 or younger, three were 18-25, one was 30-40, one was 60-70 and one was 70-80, Brindle said in her COVID-19 update.
Contact tracing reveals that one person had no known exposure to the virus, one had an exposure related to Westfield High School but did not attend the high school, one was from the high school and one was an out-of-state college student, according to Brindle. Two cases did not respond to calls for contact tracing.
“Community spread is something to take seriously and can be easily stemmed by common sense precautions,” Brindle said. “I’d also remind everyone of the importance of providing complete information to contact tracers, who are public health professionals working tirelessly on our behalf, in order to help them determine the degree and sources of community spread.”
The town’s total case count to date is 385, according to Brindle.
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