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School employee tests positive for COVID-19

Updated April 3, 2020 - 8:18 pm

The Nye County School District announced that an employee that participated in the distribution of its school lunch and breakfasts has tested positive for COVID-19.

The district was “notified of an employee testing positive for the coronavirus,” a Thursday press release stated. “This employee participated in the food distribution program.”

The news comes just a day after the school district announced that it was halting school lunch delivery.

“The decision to temporarily discontinue food distribution through April 17, 2020, was in relation to student and staff safety which continues to be our number one priority,” the district’s release stated. “The Nye County School District is working with the Nevada Department of Agriculture to explore possible community food distribution options for NCSD students during this period of time.”

The district’s statement said, “All Pahrump attendance area employees have been notified of possible exposure. To protect the privacy rights of the individual no further details will be given. Nye County School District asks for the community’s assistance in respecting this employee’s privacy, especially on social media, and to join us in our efforts and Stay Home for Nevada – Stay Home for Nye!”

A Wednesday statement from the district said, “As the number of coronavirus cases in Nye County continues to increase, NCSD has made the difficult, yet necessary decision, to keep all employees home through April 17, 2020, in order to keep our employees healthy, and most importantly, limit exposure to the coronavirus for our children,” the school district said in a release.

This order went into effect on Thursday.

“For the past several weeks, Nye County School District has worked hard to provide food and instructional materials to our students. We have been very proud of our employees and families for making this partnership a model for districts in our state and across the country,” the district’s release stated.

The school district got its school lunch delivery program up and running on March 18, utilizing the district’s current bus route and distribution centers throughout the county as delivery points.

According to the district’s prior releases, food distribution is considered an essential service during the closure of K-12 schools across Nevada. In light of this, the district stated in a press release that the need for staffing continues to provide this function.

In light of Gov. Steve Sisolak’s order to close schools last month, the Nevada Department of Agriculture began implementing the first of a two-tier strategy to lessen the potential for interruption of the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program for students across the state, according to a release from the department in March.

“We understand the importance of preventative closures to protect students, faculty and members of the community, and we are doing everything we can to help minimize the impact to students and families that rely on school meals and ensure they have access to nutritious meals,” NDA Director Jennifer Ott said. “We are strongly urging all meal site sponsors to practice social distancing by using drive-thru service where possible and by requiring six feet of space between all individuals, should lines start to form.”

According to the agriculture department, the programs utilized to serve children in the summer will be used to “provide food while schools are closed in response to the threat of COVID-19.”

The delivery of the food was set to be “grab-and-go style” so that the potential for contamination is minimized and delays were avoided. All the food will still meet the federal nutrition standards, according to the state’s department of agriculture.

“If widespread school closures result in reduced capacity of school central kitchens to provide grab-and-go meals, the second-tier strategy uses USDA Foods through the Emergency Food Assistance program,” the March release stated. “TEFAP resources can supply household food, not prepared meals.”

In a recent statement, Ott said, “We are working closely with Nye County School District food service staff to quickly determine a plan to provide children with access to meals safely. Once available, information about new meal options will be distributed to Nye County communities by the school district and amplified by the NDA.”

The school district is still implementing its distance learning program. “Learning at a Distance for our students will continue, however, all services involving people and physical proximity will stop,” the district said in a statement. “The reinstatement of these services will be evaluated over the next two weeks as we monitor positive COVID-19 cases in Nye County as well as food vendor availability and delivery.”

The district’s statement continued: “Again, this decision was not made lightly. Nye County School District is in the best position to flatten the curve in the spread of the coronavirus. Please join us in our efforts and Stay Home for Nevada – Stay Home for Nye!”

Nye County had four active cases of COVID-19, with three in Pahrump and one in Amargosa Valley. Two people had recovered, one in Pahrump and one in Beatty, according to the county.

As of Thursday afternoon, 1,458 cases of COVID-19 were reported by the state and 38 people had died. This data came from a website by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services Office of Analytics.

Contact Interim Editor Jeffrey Meehan at jmeehan@pvtimes.com

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