An individual at the Tisbury School has tested positive for Covid-19, schools superintendent Matt D’Andrea confirmed Friday — the first positive case connected to the Island's K through 12 public school system.

Speaking to the Gazette by phone, Tisbury health agent Maura Valley confirmed that the individual was a student at the school. 

In a letter that went out to parents around noon on Friday, Nov. 6, Mr. D'Andrea wrote that there had been one confirmed case of Covid-19 at the Tisbury School. Mr. D'Andrea explained that children determined to be close contacts of the individual would hear from the Island boards of health.

“If your child is determined to be a close contact, you will receive further guidance from the Board of Health. It is imperative that you cooperate with the Board of Health agent and the school to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” the letter to parents reads. “For confidentiality purposes we cannot disclose the identity of the individual.”

Reached by phone, Mr. D’Andrea said that the individual who tested positive had already been quarantining because they were determined to be a contact of a previous positive case, adding that the individual had not been in the building since last week. Although he did not know how many individuals had been identified as contacts, he said the number was low.

“We did have an individual test positive, and we’re following the protocols,” Mr. D’Andrea said. “The individual had already been quarantining because they knew they had been a close contact. Because of that, there was significantly less exposure.”

In a later phone call, Ms. Valley said that health agents and contact tracers had not identified any contacts of the student connected with the Tisbury School.

"The student had not been in the school at all during [their] potentially infectious period," Ms. Valley said. 

Mr. D'Andrea confirmed the positive case connected to the Tisbury school is the first positive case reported in the Vineyard’s K through 12 public school system. Cases have spiked on the Island over the past two weeks, reaching their highest totals since the beginning of the pandemic.

On Thursday, school officials confirmed at a meeting that there had been a positive case at the Project Headway pre-school program. Project Headway is a play-based preschool program for students ages three to five with three locations on the Island. The individual who tested positive was connected to the Grace Church location in Tisbury.

All elementary schools in the Martha’s Vineyard school district have gone back to some form of in-person learning in the past weeks, with students in fifth through eighth grades attending school at least one day per week at the Tisbury School and younger students in the building four days per week.

School committee members have been in talks to implement plans to expand in-person learning as November progresses, although the details and extent of those plans remain ongoing, and are generally occurring on a school-to-school level. The All Island School Committee also approved a comprehensive school testing plan at their meeting Thursday night. 

The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has strict protocols for school systems when individuals test positive in the school setting. Close contacts are defined as only those who have been within six feet of the individual for at least 15 minutes while the person was infectious.

All contacts are required to get tested, according to DESE, and are required to quarantine for 14 days even if they have a negative test result. DESE also requires any area of the school visited by the Covid-19 positive individual to be closed-off and disinfected. The area can be used only 12 hours after the cleaning and disinfecting has occurred.

Mr. D’Andrea said that the school had been regularly disinfected since the individual was in the building last week. He praised families and staff for their response after the two positive cases in recent days.

“We had the one yesterday at Grace Church, and we had the one today,” Mr. D’Andrea said. “I can’t say enough about how great our staff has been, and also, families, about doing the right thing when these things pop up to avoid additional spread."

Updated to include additional information from health agents about the positive individual.