Halloween party causes COVID ‘cluster’ at Westwood High School, prompting district to switch to distance learning

Westwood school officials cited an unmasked indoor Halloween party as the source of a high school COVID-19 cluster that caused at least five positive cases of the coronavirus.

Westwood Superintendent Emily Parks and Westwood High School Principal Amy Davenport said on Sunday that Westwood’s Director of Public Health, the school doctor and the COVID-19 medical advisory team recommended to unanimity that the high school is switching to distance education this week as a result of the cluster. .

Two positive tests of first-year high school students on Sunday prompted school officials to move. The two new cases bring the total to five last week in high school.

School officials said the switch to distance learning would give them time to complete contact tracing, receive close contact test results and “hopefully shut down the cluster.”

On Sunday, contact tracers at Westwood identified around 20 students considered close contacts of those who tested positive. They will be quarantined for at least 14 days.

School officials said during the contact tracing, “There were inconsistencies in reporting and varying levels of cooperation with the contact tracing process.

“We strongly recommend that parents have frank and honest conversations with their children about their social behavior over the past week, including attending indoor gatherings and socializing without following other measures. required safety, such as wearing masks, ”a letter to families from Westwood High School said. “If you have reason to believe your child has engaged in these behaviors, our Westwood Public Health Director recommends that you contact your child’s doctor and get them tested for COVID-19.”

The district contacted DESE for support from the state mobile testing unit. School officials said the unit may be able to provide free tests to a limited number of students and staff this week.

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