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Ballard staff member tests positive for COVID-19

NILES — A staff member at Ballard Elementary in the Niles school district has tested positive for COVID-19.

A letter posted to the district’s website Wednesday, as well as a voice message shared with parents throughout the district, explained that the district is working with the Berrien County Health Department to offer support for anyone who may have had contact with the individual who tested positive.

“As a reminder, when someone tests positive for COVID-19, those individuals identified as having had close contact with that person will be notified about any potential exposure as part of the contact tracing process conducted by the BCHD,” read a letter from superintendent Dr. Dan Applegate. “Those who had close contact with the individual will be given instructions for a 14-day quarantine from their last date of exposure. In these cases, if you haven’t heard anything from the BCHD, then you do not need to be concerned about potential exposure and no further action is needed at this time.”

The voice message circulated throughout the district said parents were promptly notified once the district received word from the health department of the positive test.

“The Berrien County Health Department recommends all students continue to attend school, and there is no need for your child to stay home at this time unless they are ill,” the voice message stated.

Applegate encouraged parents to use the experience as a reminder to talk with their children about taking health and safety precautions to mitigate the spread of illness, including COVID-19. This includes wearing a cloth face covering when in close proximity with others, washing hands, staying home when sick and monitoring students for potential symptoms of illness before school each day. Symptoms include fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit; vomiting, diarrhea or stomach ache; sore throat; new, uncontrolled cough causing difficulty breathing; and new, severe headache, especially with fever.

“The health and safety of our students and staff are our first priorities and we will continue to work with local health officials to ensure the safety of our school community,” Applegate wrote in the letter. “Given our commitment to the safety and well-being of our school community, we prepared and planned for these scenarios in preparation for the reopening of schools.”

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