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Rainier schools closed Monday for COVID-19 contact tracing
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Rainier schools closed Monday for COVID-19 contact tracing

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Empty Rainier field stock

Rainier High School's sport fields sits empty in this March 2020 file photo after school and sports were put on hold due to COVID-19. 

RAINIER — Multiple positive COVID-19 cases caused Rainier schools to shut down Monday as staff worked to contact trace.

Superintendent Joseph Hattrick said Monday the closure was due to “an abundance of caution” and a need to contact trace a large number of people.

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“We received word on Friday of cases, positive cases, where unbeknownst to them a student or students may have been positive for multiple days,” he said. “Because the weekend had begun, we had no way to contact trace to understand how many people it might be impacting.”

Hattrick said staff worked all day Monday tracing the three positive student cases across the district, causing 47 necessary quarantines. However, of those 47, 14 were fully vaccinated and not required to quarantine, he said.

“We don’t take those decisions lightly and we considered it for over 24 hours to determine what might be the best course of action,” he told the school board Monday. “Our priority remains to keep students in person, but it was a necessary strategy to keep additional people safe.”

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In Columbia County, cases started rising in August and remain high, according to the New York Times COVID-19 dashboard. Since the beginning of the pandemic, at least 1 in 14 residents have been infected, a total of 3,668 reported cases.

There were 57 new cases reported Monday.

Hattrick said he understands how inconvenient it is for families to have school suddenly closed, adding “I can live with an inconvenience for a short amount of time, but what I can’t live with is having the ability to do something that will protect students and not act.”

Hattrick again asked community members to be patient and understanding of the safety measures.

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“It’s a challenging time, but to become adversaries to the school district will not improve things nor will it change things,” he said. “It is my commitment that I will continue to do everything I can to ensure every student and staff member is safe and that we get through this together.”

Board member Noel Hisey thanked staff for their “due diligence” ensuring “our students are taken care of like they should be.”

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