MVRHS staff member tests negative

Staff worked remotely Friday as a precaution.

School officials will seek the advice of medical experts before moving forward with a testing plan. - File photo

Updated Sept. 9

Teachers at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School were asked to work from home Friday after a staff member let school officials know they were being tested for COVID-19, MVRHS principal Sara Dingledy told The Times Friday. On Wednesday, Dingledy let The Times know that the staff member tested negative.

“I appreciate that we are following protocols, keeping masked, avoiding close contact (15 minutes of less than 6 ft contact), washing hands and not coming to work sick,” she wrote in an email to staff, which she shared with The Times.

On Friday, Dingledy wrote an email to The Times in response to what she said were “rumors flying around about the [high school] evacuating.” She said teachers were asked to work from home Friday out of an abundance of caution. Anxiety levels are already high and school administrators, mindful of that, thought it was the best course of action for their “psychological well-being.”

Last week teachers in Martha’s Vineyard public schools began the process of preparing for the upcoming school year with first-year teachers reporting on Monday and the full staff on Wednesday. The first 10 days of the school year have been set aside as professional development days.

We have a situation where someone was in the building [Thursday] who is being tested now,” Dingledy wrote in an email to The Times. “It seemed best to just let all our surface areas sit over the weekend and bring people in next week. Our [professional development] days are such that people can simply access the work remotely.  At this stage of re-introducing everyone to the building, that seemed the best way to go.”

Dingledy emphasized that the staff member involved did the right thing. “All protocols were adhered to and we have no concerns about safety, but wanted to give you a heads up,” she wrote.

In her followup email to staff, Dingledy reiterated how potential cases would be handled moving forward. “I can assure you that we will keep everyone’s safety in mind, but will not be having people work remotely or alert all staff every time someone has a fever or symptoms,” she wrote. “We will make decisions based on the circumstances, and determine what helps us minimize potential risk. If there is ever a COVID positive case, the school community will be notified and we will utilize the contact tracing system to notify close contacts (which we should not have in the building if procedures are followed).”

Teachers and staff also worked remotely only Tuesday “due to the installation of water heaters,” Dingledy wrote.

Updated to report the results of the test.