(KCAW File Photo)

A Mt. Edgecumbe High School student tested positive for the coronavirus last week, prompting a quarantine of close contacts — all of whom should be cleared to travel by the holidays.

Superintendent Janelle Vanasse said the student was the seventh to test positive for the virus since September. She says they were identified during the school’s regular testing of the student body. Through contact tracing, they’ve identified a small group that was in close contact with the student. 

“In this case, through the whole process we’ve identified six other folks that needed to be quarantining,” she says. “We have that all happening, we have a process for doing that here on campus.”

Vanasse says the close contacts have since tested negative for the virus. They’ll receive a second test in seven days. She says if the second tests come back negative, the students will be able to be released from quarantine, in accordance with updated CDC guidelines. 

“We’re pretty grateful for the new CDC guidelines, because that’s going to make sure that all of these kids that had planned to be traveling home for the holidays are still going to be able to do that,” she says. “Though several of them did have to change their ticket to leave a few days later than they had originally planned.”

So far, she says the mitigation strategies are working. While Sitka and communities across the state remain at high risk, Mt. Edgecumbe has been able to maintain some sense of normalcy. She attributes that to testing and being able to catch cases quickly.

“All of the test-positives have been asymptomatic,” she says. “So my guess is a virus that, without the testing, might have gone undetected and ultimately led to spread. But because we’re able to do testing we’re catching it pretty early before it has that chance to spread.”

Vanasse says she’s really proud of students for consistent mask-wearing, she thinks that’s been integral to their ability to keep the virus from spreading.