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story.lead_photo.caption Students in a classroom at Asbell Elementary School in Fayetteville. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/FILE PHOTO) - Photo by David Gottschalk

SILOAM SPRINGS -- Northside Elementary School is closing on Friday so the building can be cleaned and sanitized after a staff member tested positive for covid-19 and a number of other staff members were identified as probable close contacts with the individual, according to a message to parents posted on the district’s website.

The school, which serves pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students, will reopen on Monday, Oct. 19, as usual, it states.

Seven staff members have been identified as probable close contacts, using the Arkansas Department of Health’s definition, according to Superintendent Jody Wiggins. No students have been identified as probable close contacts from the case, he said.

Probable close contacts are defined as someone who was within six feet of the infected person for 15 minutes during the infectious period, the message states. The contacts will be required to quarantine for 14 days from the last known contact with the individual, it states. Everyone who was identified as a probable close contact has been notified, it states.

“Probable close contacts are quarantined out of an abundance of caution, not because they are thought to be infected,” the message states.

The district consulted with the Arkansas Department of Health and the Arkansas Department of Education on Thursday morning to determine a course of action in response to the number of staff members quarantined, it states. The buildings will be sanitized in accordance with Center for Disease Control and Prevention and state Health Department guidelines.

The district has a plan to pull employees from other buildings or utilize substitutes to staff Northside Elementary School during the remainder of the quarantine time, Wiggins said.

As of Wednesday, there were eight positive cases among students throughout the district and nine positive cases among staff members reported on the district website. A total of 86 students were in quarantine after being identified as probable close contacts and 12 staff members were in quarantine, the site stated.

The website is updated daily and numbers reflect the close of business on the previous day, so they do not include cases and probable close contacts identified Thursday.

“The health and safety of our students and staff will always be a priority in the Siloam Springs School District,” the message states. “Thank you for your continued support.”

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