Covid cases disrupt school

Thu, 11/12/2020 - 6:15pm

The Block Island School has returned to online learning for the next three weeks after two sibling elementary students, along with their father, tested positive for Covid-19. The school is undergoing a “deep cleaning,” according to Supt. Mike Convery, who also said that the town had been in touch with the R.I. Department of Health to start contact tracing.

The announcement of the three new cases on Saturday led to new statements from both Town Manager Maryanne Crawford and Medical Director Tom Warcup, who urged vigilance, social distancing and other sanitary measures to keep the virus from spreading. Warcup said that the new cases were “likely unrelated to” a case that had been reported on the island the week before.

At the Town Council meeting on Monday, Nov. 9, Dr. Warcup said that out of the more than 225 tests that were performed the week before, none came back positive. He said there may be a few test results that may not have been recorded, but he called the results “terrific.” Students in grades three through six have been quarantined, but Warcup said the quarantine did not include the parents.

The news comes on the heels of new restrictions from Gov. Gina Raimondo who ordered that bars and restaurants close at 10 p.m. during the week and 10:30 p.m. on weekends. She also reduced the size of social gatherings to 10 and under.

“To echo the words of Gov. Gina Raimondo, the next few weeks are critical. We are asking all islanders to continue to wear your masks. Wearing masks limits the spread of the virus. Limit your contact groups, and nonessential travel whenever possible to surrounding states, and please wash your hands repeatedly throughout the day, and use hand sanitizer whenever possible. These simple steps make a difference,” Crawford said in her statement. “Contract tracing is underway and we are in contact with R.I. Department of Health (RIDOH).

Both Warcup and Crawford said that the town has “also asked RIDOH to provide us with additional testing opportunities.”

Crawford said that if any island residents feel they might be “symptomatic due to cough, fever, sore throat, shortness of breath, please reach out to your doctor or the Health Center… Now is time to turn the tide. Please take precautions, stay vigilant and let’s collectively rely on the community to band together.”

Dr. Warcup also recommended people to take the following steps:

• Please be vigilant regarding mask wearing, physical distancing and hand washing.

• The next two weeks are crucial to minimizing the impact of these cases.

• Unnecessary travel and social gatherings are strongly discouraged at this time.

• We are all challenged by the isolation imposed by the restrictions; try to use alternative ways to stay in touch with friends and family.

• Enjoy the warm weather and get outside as much as possible!

Warcup added that “there will be additional announcements as soon as we have more information.”