Saturday, February 27, 2021

Local News

COVID-19 Case at Valley as State Sees Declining Positivity Rate

Due to changes in quarantine procedures at Valley Regional High School (VRHS), the most recent positive case of COVID-19 in the school did not necessitate numerous quarantines of students and staff. A recalculation of close-contact protocols meant the positive test affected just one other individual in the school, the district announced in a Feb. 17 email.

Changes to the district’s “definition of what constitutes a ‘close contact’ for purposes of determining quarantine participants” at the high school was announced in an email on Jan. 29 by Superintendent of Schools Brian White. The change was made after discussions with the Essex Health Department and the Connecticut River Area Health District.

A close contact is now identified as “those students and staff members who have been within six feet of the positive case during any class or lunch period,” said White.

Unlike other schools in the district, students at VRHS do not attend the school in a cohort model. A cohort is a small group of students that has limited contact with other students and staff in a school.

This meant that previously a high number of students in different classes and staff needed to quarantine after each positive case of COVID-19.

“By continually refining our procedures…we are still adhering to guidelines for student and staff safety while simultaneously ensuring that as many students as possible can attend school in person,” said White on Jan. 29.

The latest case in the Regional 4 School District comes as the state sees a decline in its overall COVID-19 positivity rate, with fewer towns in the highest alert status.

As of Feb. 18, the state’s COVID-19 Alert Map showed 138 of the state’s 169 towns in the highest, red alert category. Chester remained in red alert status, while Deep River and Essex had dropped to the second-highest category, the orange alert level.

The data for the state’s expanded report issued on Feb. 18 shows the number of new cases and the average daily rate of COVID-19 cases in each of the towns per 100,000 people for the two-week period from Jan. 31 to Feb. 13. It does not account for any cases in nursing homes or other congregate housing settings.

During this period, Chester had 13 cases and an average daily rate of 22 positive cases per 100,000. Deep River had 7 cases and an average daily rate of 11.2 positive cases per 100,000. Essex had 10 cases and an average daily rate of 10.7 positive cases per 100,000.

The expanded data report is available at

Elizabeth Reinhart covers news for Chester, Deep River, and Essex for Zip06. Email Elizabeth at

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