Initially, Reston School listed two students who tested positive for COVID-19 and a letter was sent to parents on Nov. 4, according to Government information. The school closed on Thursday, Nov. 5 and re-opened the next day. However, just a week later the decision was made to close the doors for a two-week hiatus in classroom learning that began earlier this week, Nov. 16 and will conclude Nov. 27.
Principal Kent Schiltroth said, “We knew it (COVID-19) was going to affect the school year, it just came a little quicker than we expected.”
He said COVID-19 was first discovered because a student, who showed no symptoms, was tested. The student’s workplace required precautionary, routine COVID testing which took place in late October. “The person that was carrying the virus didn’t have any symptoms. We weren’t aware until into November, we didn’t know, so that student was around [other] students.”
The positive test result gave the school and the community the ability to do something about the spread of COVID-19.
Schiltroth says, “We were able to identify some areas that we knew may be probable contacts, to help public health with their contract tracing.”
A one-day community test site was set up the next week. He suggested that the school should take two weeks off in order to break the cycle. “The whole week we were in flux, we didn’t know what the situation was.”
Since the first two students tested positive, there are a handful of students within the school who have also tested positive for the virus.
But, before making the decision to close, Schiltroth said, “We chose to wait, to make sure public Health, the school division health, the council all got to take a look at the facts before we decided to close the school.” It was a move that the RM of Sifton endorsed.
He said the school, businesses and the community have been very supportive, sharing information that can help keep people safe.
“The families of all the students here in Reston School have been very supportive.”
Within the school there are some staff members who have some risks, as well as extended family. “There are a few teachers in particular that we asked them to talk to their doctors.”
He said the two-metre distancing and masks seem to work, but the school is going above and beyond to stop the virus’ spread in the small community and he feels it was the right decision to close the K-Gr. 12 school of 200 students.
This September, there weren’t any families who chose to homeschool.
Now, for two weeks, remote learning is what school at Reston consists of. “I believe most will be back,” says Schiltroth. He says the teachers were prepared, even at the start of the year, with remote learning technology in place.