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COVID-positive student attends school, exposes dozens to virus

By Kristen Hackbarth

A student presumed infectious with COVID-19 attended school for two days after a positive COVID-19 test, according to a statement issued today by the Washoe County Health District (WCHD).

The Washoe County School District’s (WCSD) Outbreak Response Plan indicates that individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 must isolate at home for at least 10 days from onset of symptoms and 24 hours have passed since recovery.

“The student’s parent, who also tested positive for COVID-19, also refused to communicate with the school” or with health district staff conducting disease investigation, WCHD officials said.

More than 80 students were exposed to the infected student at Marce Herz Middle School. The health district couldn’t say how many students were excluded from school because of the exposure.

“We are asking everyone, especially parents with children in Washoe County schools, to please cooperate with disease investigators regarding positive COVID-19 cases,” WCHD officials said. “It’s imperative that we collect information from positive cases in order to reduce transmission in the community.”

On Tuesday, the WCSD Board of Trustees voted 5-2 to accept Superintendent Kristen McNeill’s recommendation to follow Gov. Steve Sisolak’s Emergency Directive 048, which requires masks for students in grades K-12 on county school district, charter and private school properties in counties with a population of 100,000 or greater. All K-12 grade students, regardless of vaccination status or whether they would be exempt from the face covering requirement based on their age, must wear face coverings while inside school buildings unless granted an exception.

Staff members and educators are required to wear masks as well.

Washoe County School District (WCSD) has not released any information about the incident at Marce Herz. The district’s COVID Data Dashboard was last updated Aug. 9 at 4:30 p.m. and shows no data for schools impacted, student and staff cases, or exclusions.

The school district on Wednesday did release a statement chastising local media–and calling out the Reno Gazette-Journal–for their coverage of the board of trustees meeting and discussions about masking. 

“At a time when our community and our District are relying on the journalistic integrity of our local media outlets and their collective commitment to providing accurate, timely, and level-headed accounts of our District’s work and commitment to the health and safety of our students and staff members, this is inexcusable,” the statement read.

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