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Ramstein school to close for several days after three teachers test positive for coronavirus

Ramstein Intermediate School students and parents lined up on the first day of school on Aug. 24, 2020, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The school announced Friday that it will close through Oct. 5 after three employees tested positive this week for coronavirus.

JENNIFER H. SVAN/STARS AND STRIPES

By JENNIFER H. SVAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 25, 2020

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KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Three teachers at Ramstein Intermediate School have tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting the school’s closure to complete contact tracing and any needed testing, officials said.

The Department of Defense Education Activity school, which comprises grades 3, 4 and 5 on Ramstein Air Base, closed Friday and will reopen Monday, Oct. 5, said Stephen Smith, a DODEA-Europe spokesman.

The three confirmed cases are the first involving teaching staff at a DODEA-Europe school this year, Smith said. There have been no reports that the employees have been hospitalized, he said.

Teachers will be in contact with students to provide some online assignments, but the school will not transition to full-time remote learning, Smith said. The school provided more details in an email to parents Friday.

The decision to keep students and staff out of school next week was made in consultation with public health experts, who are working through “how far contact tracing may need to go,” Smith said.

The cases at RIS may involve more contacts than the handful reported so far this year at other DODEA schools in Germany, which were more isolated, he said.

Positive cases — all involving students — were reported at Kaiserslautern Middle School and Sembach Elementary School shortly after school started in August, and in early September at three schools in Bavaria: Grafenwoehr Elementary School on Tower Barracks and the elementary and middle schools at Netzaberg.

KMS was the only school to close, for one day only, so the school could be thoroughly cleaned.

The first case at RIS was announced Wednesday in a letter from principal Caryn Currie emailed to parents. Currie announced the other two cases in a letter Thursday night.

“We are working closely with military leaders and public health officials to support contact tracing efforts and will continue to keep you updated as necessary,” Currie said. “Depending upon the findings of the contact tracing process, some of our students and staff may be quarantined.”

Most schools overseen by DODEA-Europe resumed classroom learning in late August after switching to online classes last spring, due to the pandemic.

Several schools in locations where the risk of the virus spreading was still high opted to begin the year with remote learning. Bahrain will resume K-8 classes Sunday while students in Ankara will tentatively return to classes Oct. 5, Smith said. No decision has been made for the schools in Spain still conducting remote learning, he added.

DODEA has urged parents to keep their children home if exhibiting any symptoms and encouraged teachers to do the same if feeling ill.

For the most part, families and staff having been “following the protocols,” Smith said. “We very much appreciate their diligence as well as the continued support we received from all of our partners.”

svan.jennifer@stripes.com
Twitter: @stripesktown