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Triadelphia teacher, WPHS coach tests positive

WHEELING — A woman who serves as a Triadelphia Middle School teacher and volleyball coach for Wheeling Park High School has tested positive for COVID-19, coming to school after weeks of illness.

A letter sent to WPHS parents said the teacher reported first feeling ill on Sept. 5, but continued to coach through Sept. 11 and continued teaching through Monday. She was tested and subsequently found to be positive for COVID-19, which was announced Thursday.

All students who were part of the Freshman, Varsity and Junior Varsity volleyball teams, including the manager, will be required to quarantine out-of-school until Sept. 25. The families of such students are not required to quarantine. Testing does not change the length of the quarantine period.

Wheeling-Ohio County Health Administrator Howard Gamble said it was “unfortunate” that the teacher continued to report to school while actively feeling ill, but that the scenario should be a learning experience for the county.

“From a public health perspective, it’s unfortunate that you have an individual noticeably feeling ill,” he said. “Some people will still (work) because they think it’s their seasonal … allergy, or ‘at this time of year, I always feel ill, I always have a fever.’

Gamble said the turnaround time for COVID-19 tests is currently around two days, down from the nearly weeklong waiting periods after tests of previous weeks and months.

In the interest of public health and preventing the spread of the virus, Gamble advises people to err on the side of caution when exhibiting things that may be symptoms, but could be brushed off as seasonal allergies or other, expected minor health issues.

“What we advise, when we have meetings with nurses and school personnel, … regardless, over the next multiple months, we need to take every potential illness, cough, as, maybe we need to remove you, we do not need you to come, if you’re having one of the symptoms associated with COVID. We are heightened right now, and yes, it’s very easy to pick up — some of our most recent positives, they have no idea how they got it. They live alone, they’re older, don’t go out.

“It’s unfortunate that the teacher felt that way and decided to continue school. Maybe it’s a learning opportunity for all of us — regardless of how you feel, do not go (out) if you have any of the signs and symptoms of COVID. Get checked out, wait, see if the fever reduces, or call and be seen so we can say, this is X or this is Y, or get tested. We have an abundance of testing.”

Gamble said the health department had visited Triadelphia Middle School and conducted several interviews and other investigations that did not point toward a need for the school to be closed, nor the teacher’s students to quarantine. The information was used to point out what enhanced cleaning measures should be put in place, as well as determining what steps should be taken.

“The discussion (was) between myself, the nurse that interviews the patient, and we also sent out an environmental staff to the site,” he said. “The decision was that no student needed to be quarantined, and in addition to that, no school needed to be closed. … In this case, we chose early this morning to interview, see where people are, make a determination, … see what needed to be cleaned in addition to what the schools are already doing.”

Gamble added that schools statewide did have the right to close to determine contact tracing between infected people, which is done for safety purposes, not to penalize schools.

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