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Early COVID-19 cases at school put plans, nurses to the test

On the first day back in school in New Palestine, officials were notified that a student had tested positive for coronavirus.

INDIANAPOLIS — Months before the start of school, Heather Barnett and her nursing staff at New Palestine schools were preparing. 

Barnett said they were ready but certainly didn’t expect to see their first case of COVID-19 so early.

“We weren’t expecting it so soon, but it’s one of those things where until you actually do it, you’re not sure how it’s going to go,” she said.

Monday, the first day back, Barnett said she was notified a student had tested positive.

“I was not nervous. It was kind of just like, ‘OK here we go. We have a plan in place, and we can do this,’” said Barnett.

Any time a positive test is reported there or even if symptoms are suspected, students or staff are immediately isolated. And this year especially, schools aren’t taking chances.

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“Now we have kiddos that are coming in with allergy symptoms or cold symptoms, and those mimic COVID symptoms, so we are sending kids home with things we didn’t necessarily have to in the past,” said Barnett.

Barnett said she wasn't planning to see cases so quickly but knew they would come eventually.

“I think going in, thinking that we wouldn’t encounter it would be very unrealistic,” said Barnett. “So, we were expecting it. We knew it was coming, so it really wasn’t a surprise.”

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