Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Santa Fe Public Schools sees surge of coronavirus cases | Education

Coronavirus cases continue to rise nationwide due to the delta variant and “breakthrough” cases of the vaccine, and local schools have not been spared.

As the state works on introducing vaccine doses for 5-11 year olds this month, the average daily case rate for that age group in New Mexico peaked last week at more than 60 per 100,000, according to the latest Department of Health Department of Health reports New Mexico.

Santa Fe public schools counted 40 more cases on campus between Monday and Wednesday evenings – the highest number in such a short time this school year.

The district cases reported this week were diagnosed between November 1 and Wednesday. Difficulties reaching the families of people with close contacts may result in delayed reporting of numbers, said district spokesman Cody Dynarski.

Of the 40 newly identified cases, 39 related to students and one to an employee. Among the students were five at Wood Gormley Elementary School – and three of the Wood Gormley cases were likely related to a previous case on campus, according to the district.

Twelve cases with students diagnosed at the small Eastside school since Nov. 2 have resulted in 36 identified close contacts, Dynarski said.

Not all of the 36 students and staff found to have been exposed to contagious COVID-19 cases are required to be quarantined based on their vaccination status according to state guidelines.

In a recent email, Dynarski said the cases were not from the same classroom and that a possible increase in activities outside of school, such as birthday parties, could fuel the increase in cases at Wood Gormley.

The surge in cases at Wood Gormley comes after an entire class of first graders were quarantined at Acequia Madre Elementary in late October and half tested positive.

The district did not include four of these cases in its regular press releases, Dynarski said, because four of the students who contracted COVID-19 were non-contagious on campus.

Some parents fear the source of the spread was a teacher who tested positive on October 27 just before he stepped down. The district will not publish the vaccination status of employees due to privacy policy.

A Capital High School employee died Tuesday, the district said on Wednesday; Dynarski didn’t say whether the death was related to COVID-19.

On Wednesday evening, the district announced that two students from Aspen Community School, four from Capital High, one from Acequia Madre, two from Atalaya Elementary, two from Amy Biehl Community School, and one each from Ortiz Middle and EJ Martinez Elementary tested positive between last week and this week.

The district also announced on Wednesday that three students from Nina Otero Community School tested positive between Monday and Wednesday.

On Tuesday, in addition to Wood Gormley’s cases, the district announced three students at Gonzales Community School, four at Carlos Gilbert Elementary, four at Santa Fe High, two at El Dorado Community School, and one at Amy Biehl Community School one at the Milagro. Middle school tested positive between last week and this week.

On Monday, the district announced that two students from Ramirez Thomas Elementary also tested positive and that one student from EJ Martinez Elementary tested positive after being on campus last week.

Finally, an El Camino Real Academy employee tested positive Tuesday after being on campus on Monday, the district said.

In a press release on Wednesday, Superintendent Hilario “Larry” Chavez said vaccinations were the “strongest cure” for the virus in anticipation of the county’s first vaccination clinic for 5-11 year olds.

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