Ames Elementary School, Riverside | Alex rogals/Staff Photographer

An entire second grade class at Ames School in Riverside has been placed on a two-week quarantine after four students in the 23-student class tested positive for COVID-19.

The first of the four positive COVID-19 cases in the class was identified prior to Sept. 16. Another case was discovered last week and two more were identified this week. The fourth case in the class was confirmed on Sept. 22, when decision was made to quarantine the entire class. 

“We have made this determination in consultation with the Cook County Department of Public Health,” Ryan-Toye said in an email sent to all District 96 families on Sept. 22. “This is being done as a precautionary measure in accordance with the IDPH and CCDPH guidance. All families and students impacted by this have already been contacted and learning will continue remotely for the classroom.”

Ames School Principal Todd Gierman said students were not told in person that they were going to be quarantined for two weeks. Instead, the school district informed parents, who were left the job of telling their children of the quarantine.

Ryan-Toye said the two cases identified among the class this week were flagged through the weekly saliva testing regimen in District 96, which is optional for families. Further saliva testing in the class was done before the decision to quarantine the class was made.

The four cases in the same class are termed an outbreak which leads to a quarantine. There is a possibility that some of students who tested positive were infected by classmates, but Ryan-Toye said she is not sure about that.

Classes for those students will be taught remotely until Oct.7.

There have been more COVID-19 cases at Ames School than at the other schools in District 96 combined. As of the end of last week, five Ames students in total had tested positive for COVID-19 since school began last month compared to four in the rest of the district combined.

Seven Ames students not in the quarantined class have also been told to quarantine because of close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

“I want to thank our families for showing patience and grace as we have had to quarantine some students and a second-grade classroom at Ames,” Gierman said in an email to the Landmark. “In recent weeks, we realized that the new COVID-19 variants continue to impact us. The safety of our children is always our top priority, and particularly now, as we still face the ongoing challenges of COVID-19. I want to assure our families that we are carefully monitoring COVID-19 and our related health and safety protocols that we have in place at Ames.”

As an added precaution Ames School students have now been a told to wear face masks when they are out on the playground for recess, although that rule has not been extended yet to other District 96 schools.

Lunch is the only time during the school when Ames students are now allowed to take off their face masks. At lunch at Ames students do not sit directly across the table from each other.