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Lincoln's Cavett Elementary reports two positive COVID-19 cases
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COVID-19

Lincoln's Cavett Elementary reports two positive COVID-19 cases

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Cavett

Two positive COVID-19 cases are reported at Cavett Elementary, at 7701 S. 36th St.

The two most recent positive COVID-19 cases -- identified Tuesday at Cavett Elementary -- will be included in a new dashboard district officials plan to publish weekly on its website

The dashboard has yet to go live, but Lincoln Public Schools officials said the two Cavett cases are among four positive cases identified since the first day of school Aug. 12.

In addition to the two cases at Cavett Elementary, a member of Southwest’s freshman football team tested positive within the Aug. 12 time frame. Communications Director Mindy Burbach said a total of 48 people have been instructed to self-quarantine as a result of the positive test on the football team.

Lincoln Southwest freshman football team member positive for COVID-19

No other schools have been notified of positive cases since school started, which means the fourth case came from one of the other district buildings. District officials didn’t identify which building.

The dashboard, which will be published on the district’s website on Wednesdays, will include the number of positive cases of students and staff. It will include anyone who has been in an LPS building within 48 hours of the time symptoms are exhibited or a positive test result received.

It also will include the number of staff members self-quarantining. 

The dashboard won’t identify whether the positive cases are staff members or students, nor whether the cases came from schools or one of the other LPS buildings.

Those other buildings -- where students are less likely to be -- include the district office, transportation services, the operations building where maintenance and building staff work and the distribution center.

Burbach said the dashboard is an attempt to inform the public.

“We know there’s a lot of interest,” she said. “We think it’s important that we are open and transparent with our community. This is one way we can let families know the impact.”

LPS officials won't identify whether positive cases are students or staff for privacy reasons, she said.

Maggie Gossard Thompson, a mom of two LPS students and a member of the Facebook group Safely Open Schools that opposes fully reopening schools with the current level of positive COVID cases, said transparency is important for LPS to reduce the level of mistrust of those who felt the reopening process wasn’t transparent or inclusive enough.

The dashboard is a good step, she said, but, while she understands the need for privacy, she'd like to know whether students or staff are testing positive.

“I tend to lean toward transparency,” she said. “Several angles of their plan have been under attack and people have lots of questions and concerns. One way to address that is to be as open as possible.”

The dashboard will follow the same procedures LPS follows when a positive case is identified at a school: All families at the school will be notified there's been a positive case in the building, but not whether it was a staff member or student, nor which classroom.

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Those determined to be close high-risk contacts will be contacted and asked to quarantine.

Cavett families received a family message Tuesday to inform them that school officials were notified of two unrelated positive cases at school. The contact tracing process is ongoing and the health department will notify high-risk contacts.

The process LPS follows goes like this: If a student or staff member displays symptoms at school, they’ll go to the health office and isolated until they can go home.

While parents are asked to self-screen for students, that remains voluntary.

Gossard said a group of six teachers in the Safely Open Schools group asked their students on the first day if they or their parents had pre-screened them before coming to school and just three said they'd done so. 

If parents don’t report when their children test positive, the health department or health care providers will notify school officials, Burbach said.

Those with positive tests can return to school after 10 days after fever and other symptoms are gone.

Staff members are required to report if they have symptoms or test positive. If they’re exhibiting symptoms, they must self-isolate, but can come back if they test negative, Burbach said.

Staff and students asked to self-quarantine because of high-risk contacts must stay out of school for 14 days.

Between July 27 and Aug. 11 -- before students came back to school -- four teachers tested positive and a total of 14 teachers had to self-quarantine because of close contacts.

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Photos: Lincoln during the pandemic

Reach the writer at 402-473-7226 or mreist@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSreist

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Education reporter

Margaret Reist is a Lincoln native, the mom of three high school graduates now navigating college and an education junkie who covers students, teachers and policymakers inside and outside the K-12 classroom.

Related to this story

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Still recovering, Sarah Michael-Rush  doesn’t think people here take COVID-19 seriously enough.

“Most places in Kearney require a mask, but anywhere masks aren’t required, not a lot of people are wearing them,” she said. “Walmart requires them, but I was in there the other day and I counted five people walking around without them. I wanted to go up and say to them, ‘I’ve had this. You don’t want it.’”

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