Health Care

Bay Harbor school shut down after town employee tests positive for COVID-19

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UPDATE 3/13/2020: Ruth K. Broad/Bay Harbor K-8 Center will be closed until further notice after officials say they learned students interacted with a town of Bay Harbor Islands employee who tested positive for COVID-19.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools announced the shutdown early Friday, making it the first school in the district to close in an attempt to limit the possible spread of the novel coronavirus.

It is the first public school to shut down in South Florida in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision comes a day after Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said the school districts would remain open despite the growing number of COVID-19 cases in South Florida.

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The school district says the town notified them about the situation late Thursday. The town employee did not work at the school. The district says the Bay Harbor employee worked at an aftercare program in the town’s community center and had interacted with several students from the school who attended the program.

Families, teachers and staff are asked not to visit the school, 1155 93rd St. in Bay Harbor Islands. The school district says they have notified all parents and employees about the situation and are working to begin distance learning.

The school is slightly over capacity at an enrollment of 1,437 students, according to a district website.

“As we monitor this evolving situation, we will continue to make decisions, in coordination with health officials, that are guided by the best interests of @MDCPS students, employees, and the community at large,” Carvalho wrote on Twitter early Friday.

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The closure comes hours after local and state officials confirmed the employees condition late Thursday.

“The Florida Department of Health has confirmed the Town of Bay Harbor Islands employee who self isolated earlier this week has tested positive for coronavirus COVID 19,” the town said in a statement. “Our employee remains in isolation and under medical care.”

Helen Aguirre Ferré, a spokeswoman for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, confirmed to the Miami Herald that the employee tested positive for COVID-19.

On Wednesday, town officials declared a state of emergency and told staff, incorrectly, that the employee was a “presumptive positive” case of COVID-19, even though the employee had not yet been tested for the virus.

State officials had asked the town to wait before releasing any information about the case so they could gather more information, but the town went ahead anyway.

But the employee, who had traveled to Trinidad and Tobago with someone else who tested negative for COVID-19, has since been tested and confirmed to have the virus.

Bay Harbor Islands said its community center and all town parks would remain closed until further notice.

Miami Herald staff writer Colleen Wright contributed to this report.

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