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STRATTON — Stratton Mountain School has announced the five students and coaches who tested positive for COVID-19 last week have recovered in quarantine and school is getting back to normal.

Only one student was local at the time. One boarding student on campus at SMS produced a positive result as well as two students and two coaches at the Vail, Colorado, camp.

All other students tested negative.

The positive results came from the school’s weekly COVID-19 surveillance testing and were announced in a news release Nov. 11, issued by Head of School Carson Thurber the same day he learned of the positive results.

Thurber said the positive results weren’t a big surprise considering the number of positive cases throughout the country.

“Given the spread of COVID-19 throughout the country, these positive cases are not unexpected, and our COVID-19 Task Force is prepared for this situation,” Thurber said. “Contact tracing has already been initiated, and all community members identified as having been in close contact with a positive individual will be contacted directly.”

Thurber said everybody associated with SMS is fully complying with COVID restrictions and working hard to avoid the illness or spreading it.

“We have 153 students and 65 staff members and they all want to be here,” Thurber said of the school that offers classes for students in 7th through 12th grade and post-grad. “We want the community to know we’re being good stewards.”

Students and staff go through weekly PCR testing.

He said the two positive sets of tests were unrelated and more a result of the increase in virus.

“Zero connection between the two,” Thurber said.

The student-athletes in Vail were in their second week and had already had one test there when the second test turned up the four positive results.

Those students have now returned to Vermont after going through required quarantine. They also had to quarantine on return and are studying remotely until that is complete.

“We’ve cleared quarantine for the people involved,” Thurber said. “After returning from Thanksgiving, we’ll have even more stringent COVID testing.”

The students and coaches who tested positive were isolated and families notified. Contract tracing began as the school worked with SMS Medical Director Trey Dobson and the Vermont Department of Health.

The school suspended classes and activities for 48 hours and held classes remotely for two days as contact tracing was completed. The campus was restricted to residential staff and students while contact tracing was completed and day students and staff worked remotely.

In addition, boarding students were required to stay on their floor and follow strict protocols related to masks, distancing, hand-washing and opening windows for air circulation. Meals were delivered to their floor and students required to eat in their rooms.

The school said that parents of on-campus students who live within driving distance were notified to be prepared to pick up their students if they were determined to have been in close contact with an infected person. Only those unable to get home would be allowed to quarantine on-campus.

The individuals in Vail had to suspend training and were following similarly restrictive protocols while contact tracing.

“COVID-19 is extremely contagious, and a positive diagnosis can happen to anyone, even those following preventive measures,” Thurber said. “We are all in this together, and I ask you for your continued support.”

Contact Darren Marcy at dmarcy@manchesterjournal.com or by cell at 802-681-6534.


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