In Past Month 154 Students, 19 Staff Test Positive for Covid in Leominster Schools


Yahelyn De Leon Tahual

Nurse Bonnie Keckler’s office is a very busy place this month. Here she is taking a student’s temperature.

Yahelyn De Leon Tahual, Reporter

Perhaps the busiest place in the LHS school right now is the nurse’s office.

Between September 22 and October 20, in the Leominster school district, there have been 154 students who have tested positive for covid, and 19 staff with reported individual positive cases.

According to LHS School Nurse Bonnie Keckler, currently only 38% of the students are vaccinated. 

She said that the best ways to protect each other from getting infected is good hand washing, using hand sanitizer, getting the vaccine, social distancing, and always wearing your mask.

“ I recommended everyone  get vaccinated and stay away from others who are sick,” said the nurse.

Leominster High School is one of many schools who are victims of the novel coronavirus. Leominster High School started to test students on September 24, and the other district schools started around October.

So far, according to Nurse Keckler, Leominster Public Schools have tested 1,434 students and more are added each day. However, a lot of students get tested outside of school and those test numbers aren’t added to the total.

As mentioned above, between September 22 to October 20, there have been 154 students with reported individual positive cases and 19 staff with reported individual positive cases in the Leominster School District.

How is Leominster High School reacting to having positive students? Nurse Keckler explained that LHS follows set protocols to have as much control over this situation as possible.

If a student shows up to the nurse and wants to test for covid, they will be looking for the following symptoms: fever, cough, a loss of smell or taste, shortness of breath, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, sore mouth, or fatigue. Leominster High School is using rapid covid testing, which gives result in 15 minutes.

If a student tests positive, the protocol is that the parents and student are notified immediately. The student has to leave the building immediately and isolate for ten days.

The nurse then examines the student’s schedule, what classes they are in, and they look for students who have been in close contact to have them tested for possible exposure.

If a student has close contact with a positive student, they have to be tested.  However, testing and notification will depend on  if the close student is vaccinated or not.

As part of the test and stay program, close contacts who are not vaccinated and who have no symptoms need to test for a whole week and after that, if they are still negative,  they may stay at school.

If the close contact tests positive, they will need to quarantine.

If a close contact is vaccinated, Nurse Keckler said “a vaccinated student just has to monitor themselves for symptoms. They do not have to quarantine and they do not have to test unless they have symptoms.”

” I think it’s frustrating for the kids who are coming to school sick, but it’s good that we can find out the result right away,” she added. 

Like all schools in Massachusetts, LHS is currently under the state’s mask mandate by the Department of Secondary Education that was recently extended until January 15. All staff and students are required to wear masks in the building.

Nurse Bonnie Keckler takes LHS Senior Mildred Soto Sapon’s temperature in her office this week. (Yahelyn De Leon Tahual)