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To avoid COVID-19, Weed Elementary extends Thanksgiving break by one week

Skye Kinkade
Mount Shasta Herald
All who enter Weed Elementary School have their temperature checked on the first day, Aug. 31, 2020.

Due to the sharp spike in COVID-19 cases in Siskiyou County and because the parents of some Weed Elementary School students recently tested positive, the school is extending their Thanksgiving break by one week, through Dec. 7.

Superintendent/principal Jon Ray said the extra seven days will give students and their families a full 16 days to get tested, quarantine, recover and take other appropriate measures.

The Weed Union Elementary School District board made the unanimous decision during an emergency meeting Thursday evening on Ray's recommendation.

"We are not closing," Ray emphasized. The school will make up the five days at another point in the year.

WES is one of three south Siskiyou schools that began the year with in-person learning, and so far, there have been no positive cases among students or staff, Ray said.

Ray said the affected parents kept their children out of school since they first suspected they could have COVID-19, however, WES began mapping potential "second exposures" immediately.

"The potential of having a positive case – especially a positive student case – is very high," said Ray. "After an initial investigation, the potential of second exposure (i.e. a student that is highly probable of testing positive exposing other students or staff) is very low."

Ray added that WES has not been contacted by the public health department and no action has been directed from an outside agency.

"Our school community is taking a very conservative approach," Ray said, "which is very much appreciated."

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His goal, he said, and the direction of the board, is to do everything possible to remain safely open during the pandemic since WES is providing a "critical service" in the community.

"We have rigorous safety measures in place, which is how we got to Nov. 20 without any student or staff cases," Ray said. Staff members are regularly tested and classrooms and other areas are cleaned frequently. Everyone entering campus is screened and their temperatures are taken.

Meanwhile, Mount Shasta Elementary and Sisson schools returned to distance learning last week due to a positive COVID-19 case in a staff member at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Shasta, which shares Sisson's campus.

Mount Shasta, Weed, McCloud and Happy Camp high schools in the Siskiyou Union High School District went one week in a hybrid model before returning to distance learning when a family member of a student tested positive last week.

Skye Kinkade is the editor of the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers and the Siskiyou Daily News. She is a fourth generation Siskiyou County resident and has lived in Mount Shasta and Weed her entire life.