Taos Municipal Schools has first positive case of novel coronavirus

A positive COVID-19 test popped up at Taos Middle School last week, and on Monday (Sept. 28) the New Mexico Public education Department said it was a student who had tested positive.

This is the first official case in the district.

Superintendent Lillian Torrez said that the student had visited the school and was not taking classes there.

Torrez said that the conversation of a COVID-19 test came up when a TMS staff member that was trying to help the student and family member who came in. That's when the district began to investigate, and found out that the student had in fact tested positive.

"It just so happened that one of our staff members were trying to help a student and either the student or parent said some time in September we had a test [done]," Torrez said. "So we decided to investigate – and we called DOH."

The district wasn't officially made aware of the positive test until Friday (Sept. 25).

Torrez said all proper protocols were followed, and that the district got in contact with the agencies from the state that need to be informed – such as DOH and PED.

Torrez said that the district wasn't required by PED to send a letter to families about the positive test, but that she did anyways.

"We had to decide to send the letter out or not, and I always err on the side of caution," Torrez said. "We are really trying to be transparent."

Last Friday, the Taos Municipal School District sent out an email to parents of students in the middle school stating that those who came in close contact with the infected student – both staff and students – must quarantine for 14 days " regardless of the test result."

In the email, the district said that "close contact" is defined as an individual who was six feet or closer for about three minutes.

Staff at the middle school that were in close contact are required by the New Mexico Department of Health to quarantine, and should be tested seven to 10 days after exposure to the virus.

Torrez said that those who had to quarantine were no more than three people, but wasn't sure of the exact number.

The email said that the area in which the infected student was would be disinfected. Torrez confirmed to the Taos News that the middle school was disinfected over the weekend.

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