Vinton County Local Schools Superintendent Rick Brooks issued a public statement earlier this week regarding the fact that a Vinton County Middle School student had been quarantined due to being exposed to a person who had tested positive for COVID-19.

In his letter, Brooks also addressed the district’s intention to regularly post information regarding COVID-19 cases and related quarantines which involved the district’s student and staff members.

Superintendent Brooks’ message was posted Tuesday, Sept. 8, on the school district’s website and also made accessible through the district’s Facebook page. His message was as follows:

“Dear Vinton County School District Family: We are very pleased to have students in the buildings engaged in learning and we are grateful for all the planning and work to make that possible. Thank you for your efforts following all health and safety precautions.

“As we move into the school year, we want you to be informed about COVID-19 cases without violating privacy rights of students and employees. This letter is to let you know that a student at the Middle School was in close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19, and the student is quarantining at home.

“We have been in communication with our local health department and we are following all health department recommendations. We expect to have staff and students who will self-quarantine at various times as required or as a precaution due to being in close contact or around a person who has tested positive. This will likely occur regularly as we work through the next several weeks and months.

“Going forward, we will be posting regularly on the district website information about numbers of persons quarantining with no positive test result, rather than by sending an email. For students or staff who test positive for COVID-19 assigned to your building (for staff) or your child’s building (for families), we will both advise you by email and by posting information on our website. The information on the website will be detailed by building.

“Please be assured our district is cleaning and sanitizing our buildings per Health Department guidelines. Following mask and social distancing requirements results in few, if any, persons required to quarantine. So, we urge you to continue to follow our district guidelines.

“Research has shown that our best defense against viruses is avoiding transmission. Physical or social distancing, wearing a facemask, and practicing good hygiene when layered together provide an increasingly stronger barrier of defense against the virus. Please remind children of the following important health habits:

“* Wear a mask. Wear a mask when in public and at school. Masks are required on school buses and in school buildings.

“* Wash hands. Practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; remind children of this health habit.

“* Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Use an elbow if no tissue is available.

“* Do not share personal items – pens, pencils, cell phones, electronic devices, laptops, water bottles, drinks, food, or unwashed utensils.

“* Avoid close contact with people who are sick. If your child has had close contact with a person with COVID-19, keep your child at home.

“* Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth whenever possible; remind children of the importance of this health practice.

“* Abide by the district’s physical distancing procedures.

“We take our responsibility very seriously and assure you that we will continue to monitor COVID-19 with health officials, implement planned safety protocols, and provide updates to our families. As a reminder, if your child is experiencing signs/symptoms, please keep your child at home and contact your health care provider. --Sincerely, Rick Brooks, Superintendent, Vinton County Local Schools.”