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East Arcadia Elementary employee tests positive for COVID-19

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Bladen County Schools learned Tuesday that an employee at East Arcadia Elementary School has tested positive for COVID-19, the system’s public relations and information officer Valerie Newton announced in a news release.

Citing privacy requirements, Bladen County Schools didn’t release the name of the individual or details that may identify the person, but the information has been provided to the Bladen County Health Department.

The health department is investigating the case. The number of staff members who came into contact with the employee is minimal, according to Newton. The area where the staff member worked underwent a deep cleaning and disinfection. Operations at the school will continue as usual and staff is expected to return to work Wednesday.

Bladen County Health Department is working with school staff to identify anyone who may have had close contact (i.e., within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes) with this person. The impacted staff members who were determined to be in close contact with the infected individual have all been notified directly, the news release said. Those that were in close contact will remain off-campus for up to 14 calendar days to ensure that there will not be any potential further spread, according to the school system.

“The safety and well-being of Bladen County Schools’ staff is always our number one priority,” Newton said in the release. “We are taking extra steps to ensure the safety of all our staff. Bladen County Schools are following CDC and DHHS guidelines as we continue to monitor the situation. Our Board is committed to the health and safety of its employees and supports measures that will keep all employees safe.

“Furthermore, we need our staff to do their part at school and at home to maintain social distance from others outside of their household, wear face coverings, and wash/sanitize hands often. The goal of every action in this sequence of events is to protect our students and staff and get back to learning and school activities as soon as possible.”

Bladen County Schools is working with Dr. Terri Duncan, the Bladen County Health Director, to follow recommendations as to proactive steps that can be taken to ensure employee safety, the news release said.