Classes at Thunder Mountain High School shifted to distance delivery only for Monday, April 19, following three confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the high school. Contact tracing was underway as of Monday. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

In-person classes to resume Thursday at Thunder Mountain following COVID cases

Boys soccer and wrestling teams to skip practice for quarantine and testing

This story has been updated to include new information and will continue to be updated as more information becomes available.

All Thunder Mountain High School classes will continue with distance delivery on Tuesday, April 20, the Juneau School District announced on its website late Monday afternoon. All other schools in the district are open and functioning according to the normal schedule.

This follows an unplanned distance learning day for TMHS students on Monday after three people at the high school tested positive for COVID-19. In-person classes are set to resume on Thursday, April 22, as every Wednesday is designated as a district-wide, independent study day.

“Out of an abundance of caution to protect the health of the TMHS community, Tuesday, April 20 will be another distance learning day for all classes,” the district’s website read.

According to the school’s website, public health contact tracing for the confirmed cases is now complete. However, additional testing for close contacts is underway, and those results are not yet available.

“As far as the information we have so far, it appears that exposure took place outside of school,” Kristin Bartlett, chief of staff at the district, said in a phone interview late Monday afternoon.

She declined to provide details about the people who have tested positive, citing privacy concerns.

She said she didn’t know if the people involved had been vaccinated. But, she said that vaccination status would affect the protocols public health suggests as contact is made with people who may have been exposed or diagnosed.

According to the school’s website, the wrestling and boys soccer teams will not practice this week as members complete quarantine and testing requirements. Other extracurricular activities are approved to move forward as planned.

Monday’s shift to online learning was announced via email to parents on Sunday afternoon. It’s the first time the district has shifted an entire school to distance learning. During past occurrences, exposed classrooms have moved to distance delivery while public health officials conducted contract tracing and affected individuals completed testing.

“Part of the reason is that it was the weekend, and it takes a little longer to trace and also because there are multiple cases and we wanted to make sure it was a contained environment. So far, looks like it was a contained environment and testing will confirm that,” Bartlett said.

Protocols are in place

According to an email shared with district parents late Sunday, Juneau Public Health officials and the district are following protocols to isolate people diagnosed with COVID-19, identify close contacts and disinfect the school.

[Juneau schools expand in-person learning]

People in the school participating in activities or in classrooms who may have been exposed have been contacted directly. Unless otherwise notified, a child has not been identified as a close contact, does not need to quarantine or be tested, according to the district. Close contact is considered being within 6 feet of someone who tests positive for COVID-19 for a cumulative of 15 minutes or more per day.

On an update posted on the high school’s website, families with students who need to access the school for internet needs are encouraged to reach out to the principal directly at steve.morrow@juneauschools.org.

Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at dana.zigmund@juneauempire.com or 907-308-4891. Ben Hohenstatt contributed reporting to this article.

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