(Angela Denning/KFSK)

All three Petersburg school buildings closed Tuesday, October 27 after the announcement of a positive COVID-19 test result for a student in the elementary school.

Petersburg’s emergency operations center Tuesday announced a fifth grade student and parent has tested positive. The student was showing symptoms and recently took part in an activity trip to Juneau not connected to the schools. Other students who went on this trip are being evaluated and tested. The student attended school after returning from the capital city.

The student is in one of the fifth grade classes at Rae C. Stedman Elementary. As a result, all fifth graders are instructed to quarantine for two weeks as well as their identified close contacts.

Students in middle and high schools went home but are back to online remote learning during the closure.

School superintendent Erica Kludt-Painter Tuesday said for other grades building closures would last at minimum until Thursday morning October 29.

“So at this point then other people around within the school setting or even in the classroom are considered sort of that contact of a contact,” Kludt-Painter said. “And so we wait for public health to guide us on that over this next day or so and that’s why we wanted to just at least a minimum 24-hour closure, do some extra deep cleaning, have some time to make some contact with families and find out a little bit more about where they’ve been and who they’ve been in contact with and all those things. And our public health crew and medical center crew are on that job and so we’re helping them with that information.”

The fifth grade class will be remote learning during the two weeks of quarantine. The closure of all three school buildings will also allow for investigation of probable close contacts in the middle and high schools, according to the district.

Kludt-Painter has been anticipating COVID cases in the schools since the return to classroom learning and she praised the response of staff and parents.

“Our staff (is) of course as always, professional and staying calm and just helping to get the kids where they need to be.” Kludt-Painter said. “We just appreciate that. Everybody just is staying nice and calm and we’re not overreacting because we knew this was coming and we’re just going to keep going one step in front of the other and thanks to everybody for their patience and helping us get through this.”

Petersburg now has three active cases and a total of 22 COVID-19 positives combined for both Petersburg residents and non-residents since the start of the pandemic. People with symptoms should call the COVID hotline at Petersburg Medical Center is 772-5788.

(Editor’s note: this story has been updated)