Grand Avenue Elementary had two COVID-19 cases

By: 
Joe Block

Two classes were quarantined at Grand Avenue Elementary School in the wake of two positive COVID-19 cases at the school in mid-September. The information comes from emails obtained by the Star News from a Grand Avenue parent who wishes to remain anonymous. There has been no official announcement from the Sauk Prairie School District to families or Sauk Prairie residents.

The September 21 message to Grand Avenue parents reads, “The county health department notified the district that an individual has tested positive for COVID-19. (This brings the total for Grand Avenue to two positive cases.).”

It continued, “Any students or staff members who are considered Close Contacts have already been notified separately with further instruction from their local county health department.”

“Although we must protect the privacy of the individual involved, the health and safety of our staff and students is a top priority. We are providing you the following information to help you make a well-informed decision for your family.”

The District’s only announcement of the quarantine--but not the positive cases--came at the last school board meeting, when Superintendent Jeff Wright mentioned in passing the quarantined classes, which went online for two weeks.

Privacy concerns were cited by Wright in an email to the Star News as the reason he would not share information about COVID-19 cases.

He wrote, “The District understands the public’s interest in being informed about COVID issues as they affect the school system and we have developed procedures to be as transparent as possible while protecting the privacy interests of students and District employees.”

The information obtained from the Grand Avenue parent does not violate any HIPAA and still protects the privacy of the individuals involved. The information could be shared by the District to the community as a whole without violating “privacy interests,” according to Federal HIPAA Law.

The two classes that were moved to online only for quarantine returned to in-person, according to the District message, on October 2.

No emails were shared District-wide with parents about the positive cases and the quarantine, according to the District.

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