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Greenfield-Central student tests positive for COVID-19 on first day back to school

The student reportedly attended school for part of the day Thursday, the first day of classes in Greenfield.

GREENFIELD, Ind. — A Greenfield student has tested positive for COVID-19 on the day the district returned to class.

Superintendent Dr. Harold Olin sent an email to parents of students at Greenfield-Central Junior High School Thursday, notifying them a student at the school had tested positive for the virus. Olin said the district was notified of the positive test by the Hancock County Health Department. 

The student reportedly attended school for part of the day Thursday, the first day of classes in Greenfield.

After learning of the test result, the district enacted its "Positive COVID-19 Test Protocol," including isolating the student at the junior high school's clinic and using the student's schedule to determine which students or staff with whom they may have come in close contact. That included transportation and extracurricular activities.

The district and the health department were working to call those identified as possible close contacts Thursday night.

While Olin said all areas of the district's schools are professionally disinfected each evening, the classrooms and areas where the student occupied will be given special attention.

Before the school year, the district outlined steps parents should take to check for possible COVID-19 before sending their child to school.

"We are working hard in Greenfield-Central to control the variables we can control in our schools. Our job becomes exponentially more difficult when students come to school without meeting the expectations of the self-screening tool we’ve asked families to complete each day," Olin said in an email to 13News Thursday night. "This is a bump in the road in our reentry process we were not counting on, but we have protocols in place for positive cases. We have initiated them."

School year starts with hybrid learning model

The Greenfield-Central Community School Corporation surveyed its families this summer. By and large, parents and students wanted a return to the classrooms. That happened Thursday with in-person classes on the first day of the new school year.  

"I wanted to go back to school,” said sixth grader Alex Muegge, “because with quarantine, we couldn't see our friends as much.”

Only 15 percent of families, just over 600 students, opted to stay home for remote learning. Greenfield families could choose in-person or online classes for their children. But the commitment was for a full semester.

"I like going to school more,” said fourth grader Elizabeth Lammert, “because I think the computer, when you get on it, it feels like when you're at home, that’s more of your comfort space where you usually don't have to do all that work, like look at a screen or get out books. I think it’s easier to stay on track when you’re at the school."

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Students got off the bus Thursday afternoon still wearing the masks they put on to start the school day.

"We kind of left it on all day except for lunch,” said third grader Charlie Rayburn. “That was like the only time I took my mask off.”

“Yeah, that was pretty much the only time, to eat,” said second grader Spencer Lammert. “You had to take your mask off to eat. How could you eat through your mask?"

Olin told 13News Thursday afternoon he expected to deal with a coronavirus case in one of his schools. But Olin said with contact tracing and precautions in place, a positive test might force a limited quarantine.

"So, it's part of a class, it may be an entire class, maybe an entire grade level,” said Olin. “It might be an entire school. But there are many levels before we would shut down an entire school corporation. That wasn't the case four months ago."

"Everyone wants to go back to school and everyone wants to have fall sports and all these things, they want them to happen,” said Greenfield-Central High School freshman Katie Muegge. “But if we're not doing what we're supposed to do and we spread COVID, then we can't do the things that we want to do. So, I feel like everyone's going to try their best to do everything right."

Coming home from school after day one, parents and students hope to keep going back.