EPS staff member tests positive for COVID-19 ahead of first day of school

EDWARDSBURG — Before Edwardsburg Public Schools welcomed back students Tuesday morning, a staff member reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.

In a letter sent to parents Monday, EPS Superintendent Jim Knoll reported that an unidentified staff member had tested positive for COVID-19. In the letter, Knoll wrote that the individual was self-quarantining, and the district was consulting with the Van Buren/Cass District Health Department about any next steps that should be taken. He further reported that the health department had contacted anyone directly impacted by the incident.

Tuesday, Knoll updated parents that only the middle school had been affected, and all potentially infected areas were sanitized.

“This is the first time we are dealing with this,” Knoll said Tuesday morning. “We are still waiting for some guidance. … We are following all the recommended protocols at this time.”

In addition to the staff member who tested positive, Knoll said an additional three district employees are currently quarantining due to contact with the positive individual.

While Knoll said no other staff had tested positive for COVID-19 at this time, he said it is likely inevitable that there will be additional COVID-19 positives before the end of the school year. In keeping with health department guidance, Knoll said each case would be handled on a case-by-case basis.

“Right now, we are being very cautious, overly cautious, as we should,” he said.

Despite the positive COVID-19 test, Knoll reported a successful first day of school on Tuesday for students who returned both for in-person and virtual learning. Roughly 350 students opted for a virtual learning option due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The teachers have worked very hard to implement the new curriculum and get our virtual program moving,” Knoll said.

Knoll said the district had taken extensive protocols to ensure a safe environment for students returning for in-person instruction, including stringent sanitation measures and mandatory mask-wearing.

“The biggest thing is you don’t get to see the smiling face under the masks, but I can tell people love to be together, and I’ve seen a lot of happy people today,” Knoll said. “Edwardsburg is a tight community. I can tell people are just happy to be back together.”

Knoll said he plans to continue to update parents on any necessary COVID-19 related developments.

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