Two positive COVID-19 cases at Voorheesville schools

Clayton A. Bouton High School

Clayton A. Bouton High School

NEW SCOTLAND — The Voorheesville Central School District on Monday announced that two members of its school community had tested positive for COVID-19.

The positive cases, according to the COVID-19 Report Card maintained by the New York State Department of Health, were two students — one from Voorheesville Elementary and the other from Clayton A. Bouton High School; the cases were not connected. 

This is the district’s third case of COVID-19, a middle-schooler tested positive for the virus in September.

During the Nov. 9 school board meeting, Superintendent Frank Macri said that the elementary-school case won’t impact students or school staff because that case was considered to be “a very low risk of exposure,” according to a letter sent home to parents on Monday, so quarantining is not necessary.  

The high-school case, however, involves the Albany County Department of Health conducting what Macri called “proximate-contact” tracing, which is a recent change from how the department typically traced positive-COVID cases.

A month ago, if a student, teacher, administrator, or other employee of the school district had been exposed to someone who had tested positive for COVID-19, the exposed person would have had to quarantine only if they had been within close proximity, six feet, to the COVID-positive person for an extended period of time, Macri said. 

  But, with the new proximate-contact tracing, those guidelines have been made more stringent. For example, if a student tests positive for the virus, anyone who had been in the classroom with that student for one class period would be put on the proximate-contact list “for them to possibly quarantine,” Macri said. 

The county Department of Health is casting “a very wide net” with its proximate-contact tracing, Macri said, out of an abundance of caution, which is due in part to the recent spike in positive coronavirus cases.

Macri also said during the Nov. 9 meeting that the county’s health department will no longer accept a negative result from a rapid test as proof someone no longer has COVID-19 — although the department will continue to accept positive results from rapid tests. 

“All tests are not equal,” Albany County Health Commissioner Elizabeth Whalen explained at a Nov. 5 press briefing on COVID-19.

If someone with COVID-19 symptoms, like a fever and cough, tests positive with a rapid test, Whalen said that would be reliable.

“We have seen instances where these tests are false negatives,” she said of the rapid tests.

Whalen recommended that people with symptoms, even if they test negative with a rapid test, should also get a laboratory test, called a PCR for polymerase chain reaction, which detects genetic material of the virus. This way, people with symptoms will be sure they don’t have COVID-19.

“Rapid tests are still very effective for screening,” said Whalen.

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