School district and Medical Reserve Corps offer swift response to new case

Fourteen students and four staff members deemed to be close contacts were tested on Monday.

Only one week into the 2021-22 school year, there has been a confirmed case of COVID-19 at McMurray Middle School, affecting a student at the school.

Vashon Island School District (VISD) Superintendent Slade McSheehy, in an email notification to parents and community members that was sent on Monday, Sept. 6, said the student who had tested positive is now safely isolating at home.

He also detailed the district’s actions in the wake of the case, which have included immediate consultation with both Public Health – Seattle King County and Vashon’s Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) to conduct extensive contract tracing on the case.

On Monday morning, a total of 14 students and four staff members, identified as having possible exposure to the infected student, were tested at the school by members of the MRC, who then personally rushed the tests to the mainland for immediate processing. Those results were returned at the end of the day, with all testing negative. One other student remains to be tested at this point.

At the rapid response, pop-up COVID testing station, set up at McMurray, VISD School Nurse Pam Kirkpatrick worked alongside MRC doctors including Bonny Olney, Ina Oppliger and Jim Bristow, as well as other MRC volunteers. McMurray principal Greg Allison was also on site.

The drive-in site ran a bit like the mass testing site operated by the MRC for many months at Open Space for Arts & Community. Parents drove in, were checked in, and an MRC volunteer gave instructions on how to self-administer the test.

The urgent testing effort was aimed at getting test results back quickly so those who tested negative would hopefully not miss any school time, said Rick Wallace, manager of Vashon’s Emergency Operations Center.

No close contacts to the infected student were identified on a school bus, McSheehy said, in his email.

He also said that all those who had been deemed to have close contact with the infected student have already been notified, but urged those who were not directly contacted, but are still concerned about possible exposure, to contact either the MRC or Washington State’s Department of Health website.

The telephone number for the MRC is 844-469-4554; the website to read guidance on “What to do if you were potentially exposed to someone with confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19).”

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