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COVID-19 cases confirmed at 16 Washoe County schools (updated)


The Washoe County School District (WCSD) is reporting that staff and students at 16 schools are known to have been exposed to COVID-19 since the start of classes on Aug. 9.

There have been 16 cases, one at each of the 16 affected schools. Nine of the cases have been in students, and six have been reported in staff members. These people did not necessarily contract COVID-19 while at school. Rather, they attended school in-person while contagious.

Included in the cases is one wherein a student was knowingly sent by a parent to the first day of school while infected with COVID-19. The student exposed about 80 others to the virus, and incident that made national news.

The school district referred This Is Reno to the Washoe County Health District (WCHD) when asked if there would be consequences for the parent who sent their child to school or if other measures might be taken if this happens again.

“The school district’s focus is to work with our families, as we have always done, and we continue to educate them about the importance of them cooperating with the health district,” said district spokesperson Megan Downs. “We offer a free public education to all students and of course the student will be permitted to attend classes after they test negative. No other cases have been confirmed to be associated with cases of parents or guardians knowingly sending their children to school with the virus.”

According to WCHD officials, though, no legal action is planned against the parent because it would require further investigation by disease investigators who are busy performing regular duties.

“There will be no legal ramifications against the parent because our resources are more valuable to continue the efforts to hopefully prevent extended disease transmission and consequences of that if we don’t,” said WCHD spokesperson Scott Oxarart. “It’s more valuable to keep those people doing what they’re doing with disease investigation instead of pursuing any type of legal ramifications against that person.”

This Is Reno asked the health district to confirm whether or not any of the 80 people exposed to COVID-19 by the student have since tested positive for the virus. We did not receive a response to that inquiry prior to publication of this story.

The school district made an aggressive effort to get as many of its staff as possible vaccinated during the spring, holding vaccination events at schools across the district with help from local fire agencies and volunteers. However, WCSD is not mandating staff be vaccinated, and it is not requiring those who aren’t to regularly test for the virus.

The 16 new cases have resulted in the exclusion of approximately 130 students and staff. The number of people excluded when a sick person has been on campus with them varies from location to location based upon contract tracing.

Schools where exclusions have been made*:

  1. Bohach Elementary
  2. Sepulveda Elementary
  3. Towles Elementary
  4. Elmcrest Elementary
  5. Inskeep Elementary
  6. Van Gorder Elementary
  7. Corbett Elementary
  8. Beck Elementary
  9. Hunter Lake Elementary
  10. Herz Middle School
  11. Shaw Middle School
  12. Cold Springs Middle
  13. Clayton Middle School
  14. TMCC High School
  15. Damonte Ranch High School
  16. Spanish Springs High School

WCSD is following the governor’s mask mandate and requiring all K-12 grade students, regardless of if they are exempt from the face covering requirement based on their age, to  wear face coverings while inside school buildings unless granted an exception.

*School district officials said the district’s online dashboard will only be updated with COVID-19 and exclusion numbers once a week after WCHD information becomes available.

Update: The list of schools reported with exclusions has been updated to include Spanish Springs High School instead of Spanish Springs Elementary School. The district’s timeframe for updating its COVID-19 data online has also been added.

Jeri Chadwell
Jeri Chadwellhttp://thisisreno.com
Jeri Chadwell came to Reno from rural Nevada in 2004 to study anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno. In 2012, she returned to the university for a master’s degree in journalism. She is the former associate and news editor of the Reno News & Review and is a recipient of first-place Nevada Press Association awards for investigative and business reporting. Jeri is passionate about Nevada’s history, politics and communities.