The Wright County Health Department (WCHD) is wanting to make the public aware of inaccurate information published recently in a media report coming out of Springfield.
While the report in question indicated that Norwood High School’s entire graduation class had to be self-quarantined due to COVID-19, the WCHD posted on their Facebook page that the report is “inaccurate.”
Norwood Superintendent Shannon Crain told the Wright County Journal that three of his district’s graduates have officially tested positive for the coronavirus. He added that two other students, who were not members of the Class of 2020, also tested positive.
“All five students attended the same summer church camp prior to graduation ceremonies,” Superintendent Crain said. “The students did not get tested for the virus until the week after the graduation date.”
He went on to say that the three graduates did attend graduation ceremonies, which were held inside the school’s gymnasium on Friday, June 26, and they attended Project Graduation that followed. Project Graduation included students visiting Incredible Pizza in Springfield that evening before heading to the Seymour YMCA for an overnight outing full of activities.
“Upon the rumors of students having the virus, I contacted the county health department for confirmation,” Superintendent Crain said. “When they received confirmation on their end, they contacted the school to confirm. The school then provided names and numbers of all students and staff that attended project graduation. The health department then contacted each person.”
As a precaution, the school district’s 10 employees who served as sponsors for late June events have been told by the WCHD to stay home and watch for symptoms.
Superintendent Crain said as of Tuesday morning on July 7, he has not been notified of any additional students testing positive for COVID-19.
Though the district’s commencement took place 10 days after Missouri Gov. Mike Parson declared the state had moved into Phase 2 of the statewide recovery plan or was essentially “open for business,” safety procedures remained in place for the graduation.
In a story first published in the Wright County Journal on June 10, it was noted that any person being tested for or exposed to someone infected with COVID-19 starting on June 12 would not be able to attend the event.
Sanitization would take place and attendees, in alignment with health department recommendations, were encouraged to wear masks though it was
not a mandatory requirement. This was the same mask recommendation provided at that time by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). It was noted that attendees would have to provide their own mask.
In a letter dated on June 18, Norwood Principal Adam Hill encouraged families to follow social distancing guidelines including to leave seating between families. If folks were sick or had an underlying health condition or compromised immune system, they were encouraged to stay home.
In a letter dated June 22 from Principal Hill, graduates were notified that they could have four guests on the gym floor for graduation as seats were spaced out in groups of four.
Seating in the bleachers and blue seats were open to the public until capacity limits were reached. The bleacher seating took place due the state being in Phase 2 of the recovery plan.
No temperatures were reportedly taken at the door.
As for Project Graduation, extra buses were used to encourage social distancing.
Graduates also had to turn in waiver forms in order to take part in Project Graduation activities.
As of Sunday, July 12, the WCHD is reporting 18 total active COVID-19 in the county.
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