COVID case count climbs at Johnston’s Winsor Hill School

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The number of COVID-19 cases has climbed to 23 at Johnston’s Winsor Hill School.

There are “four additional cases” Johnston Schools Superintendent Dr. Bernard DiLullo Jr. said Tuesday.

The four new cases have all been diagnosed in students. That makes 21 student cases and two adult staff member cases connected to the outbreak that led to closure of the school for one day last week.

Meanwhile, more than 40 Winsor Hill students are in quarantine after contact tracers determined they were in “close contact” with confirmed cases.

“We estimate one whole first grade classroom; 22 kids,” DiLullo said. “And then an additional 20 kids have been identified as ‘close contact.’”

In the meantime, the Johnston School Committee has approved the hiring of a teacher who’s job will be exclusively to help educate children learning at home, while in quarantine.

“I was concerned about the kids being home, and without instruction, especially at the elementary level,” DiLullo said. “The kids still need that guidance.”

The new position will be a distance learning teacher in charge of Virtual Instruction, and will be there for elementary students of all ages who may be stuck at home, awaiting the end of quarantine and a negative COVID test.

“We’ve reached out to a number of our applicants for elementary positions,” DiLullo explained. “(The Virtual Instruction teacher) would gather lessons for the students who are out and interact with those students through Google meets. It’s much more important to have a teacher teaching them, than just receiving a packet.”

For now, a substitute is filling the role. The temporary Virtual Instruction teacher spent the day Monday getting up to speed.

The school district is “in the process of hiring a permanent” teacher for that role, DiLullo said.

Once DiLullo finds a “successful candidate,” the hiring will likely be approved at the Oct. 12 School Committee meeting.

So far, no major outbreaks have been reported in the district’s other schools.

“It’s interesting,” DiLullo said. “The numbers at the other schools are still pretty low. We’re not seeing a major swell like we saw at Winsor Hill.”

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