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Child Positive For Coronavirus Was Sent To School Anyway. Others Quarantining Now

Nearly 30 Massachusetts high school students have been told to quarantine after parents sent their child to school despite knowing that the teen was positive for the coronavirus.

The students, who attend Attleboro High School, will be required to quarantine for two weeks. Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux told NPR that the student should have been self-isolating since Sept. 9 — the day the student was tested for the coronavirus. However, the parents of the student continued to send the teen to school even after receiving the positive results on Friday.

Authorities have not released the identity of the student or family.

Chatter about the positive case began on social media, and eventually a contact-tracing team notified the school. That's when the parents were contacted and admitted to knowing that their child was positive for the virus, Heroux said.

Attleboro has six active cases of COVID-19 within the school district, which serves about 6,000 students, Heroux said. However, this is the only case he's aware of where a student was sent to school knowingly when the student was positive for the coronavirus.

The district notified everyone as soon as possible and did everything possible, he said, so the responsibility here falls on the parents of the student.

"If your child has tested positive, keep your child home. You cannot send your child to school," he said. "If they are awaiting results, please keep your child home."

Superintendent David Sawyer wrote to the families of the high school's students to inform them of the situation and urged them to keep confidence in the school's protocols. Sawyer's office declined to comment but shared the letter with NPR.

"I understand that this inevitable moment is stressful for many. However, it shouldn't change anything. The guidance from the state cannot ensure a virus-free environment, especially considering we know that some carriers are asymptomatic," Sawyer wrote in the letter, saying that contact tracing and daily pre-screening help to reduce the threat but don't eliminate it.

"We will have to wait for the end of the quarantines to be certain we were successful, but there is no reason at this moment to assume differently," he added.

Outside Attleboro, at least five Massachusetts high schools have moved classes online in response to COVID-19 concerns or outbreaks from students attending parties,according to NBC Boston.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.