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Gretna High sees surge in positive COVID-19 cases following unsanctioned party

342 tests conducted on-site Thursday
Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 10:36 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 15, 2020 at 2:05 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Gretna High School has traced a surge of over 40 cases back to a large gathering on Oct. 3, prompting testing at the school on Thursday.

According to the superintendent, a parent hosted a non-school sanctioned homecoming party that has revealed 40 positive cases so far.

“Kids want to be kids, and you know, they want to have an as normal senior year junior year as they can. We obviously didn’t have a homecoming dance, etc., just because we knew better — knew that would be a potential widespread event,” said Dr. Rich Beran, Gretna Public Schools Superintendent. “It doesn’t surprise me — it’s disappointing.”

Once the students get tested, they return to class and continue their school day.

In a letter issued to parents, GHS outlined a partnership with the Sarpy/Cass Health Department in response to the surge.

“This isn’t the first time that we’ve seen cases tied to larger group gatherings,” SCHD Director Sarah Schram said.

Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services said in a news release Thursday afternoon that 342 COVID-19 tests were conducted that day.

Beran said in the release: “I certainly understand the want for students and parents to take part in social activities, especially those that are considered a rite of passage; however we must remain vigilant in our efforts to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our schools and community.”

Parents signed up their sons and daughters up via a link sent to their inboxes in addition to filling out a mass testing consent form. The testing, also made available to staff, is not mandatory.

Thursday’s testing was conducted with the Nebraska Public Health Lab emergency response trailer in collaboration with Gretna Public Schools.

“We hadn’t used this unit for quite some time, but because of the new organizational structure, we were able to deploy staff and leverage our strong relationship with NPHL to support Gretna,” DHHS Incident Commander Angie Ling said in the release.

Further testing had been planned at Gretna High School, but the school confirmed on Friday that all testing there had concluded Thursday.

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