More than 150 students in Merrimack, New Hampshire, are in quarantine and high school sports have been suspended after a COVID-19 outbreak last week.
Six students have tested positive for coronavirus, and Superintendent Mark McLaughlin said Thursday that the large number of students were put in quarantine out of an abundance of caution.
Still, it’s causing concern among some people in the community.
“Those six kids are hanging with friends and then six more kids get it, and it kind of grows from there,” Bridget Von Markgraf said.
Out of the six students who tested positive, school leaders say, four of them are athletes.
“I work in the medical field, so I knew this was coming,” said Kelly Buteau. “It doesn’t surprise me.”
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In a statement, Superintendent McLaughlin wrote, in part, “NH DHHS contact tracing directed us to athletes on a number of our teams who may have been exposed to a positive case in the context of play or practice. As a result, those students were asked to remain at home for a period of fourteen days.”
So now, 170 students are in quarantine and all high school sports have been suspended until further notice.
“I think that’s a very good decision, especially with close-contact sports,” Buteau said.
But not everyone agrees. Michael Suarez has a son who is a senior at Merrimack High School.
“I’m extremely frustrated,” he said Thursday.
He thinks the district is overreacting and wants his son to get back to class.
“Kids are going to be in car accidents, you don’t take away cars,” Suarez said.
It’s not exactly clear the source of the outbreak, but McLaughlin said there’s been no identified transmission within school buildings.
Merrimack is continuing with its hybrid learning model right now while the impacted students stay home.
“I trust that our officials are doing the right thing and that they’re not overreacting or underreacting,” said longtime Merrimack resident Rick Dekostic.
The superintendent sai many of the students who are in quarantine are coming to the end of that two-week period and will resume their normal schedules, as long as there are no other positive cases.