Santa Fe Public Schools announced a 10th contractor or employee has tested positive for COVID-19 since mid-July, and though all cases are believed to have been contracted outside of work, Superintendent Veronica García said it’s another reminder the district is too large to completely avoid contact with the disease.
The district began the 2020-21 school year online, with a potential return to the classroom targeted for October.
“With 13,000 kids and 1,500 employees, I don’t think we can prevent everybody from coming in contact with another who is positive ,” García said. “That makes our own safety protocols so important because even if somebody does test positive, the exposure and risk of infection to others might be fairly low-risk if we’re wearing masks and keeping distance.”
García said the most recent positive test last week was a contractor from Overhead Door Company who was wearing a face mask while working in the district from Aug. 17-22 and did not have contact with employees. Since mid-July, four employees and six contractors have tested positive for COVID-19 on their own accord, as the district is not mandating testing.
After each positive case, the district says it closes any area affected by the virus for 24 hours as custodians disinfect the space using products approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to kill the virus.
The district also has said employees who require time off work to quarantine following a positive test result or for treatment of COVID-19 will be granted paid administrative leave that will not count against their allotment of sick leave.
Elsewhere, three more Santa Fe restaurants closed after reporting workers’ COVID-19 cases to the New Mexico Environment Department.
Dolina Cafe & Bakery is closed “until further notice” after reporting one case Sunday, the cafe announced in a note posted on the door.
“We are taking all precautionary measures to sanitize and clean the restaurant and test all employees,” the note said. “We will reopen to business when we are absolutely sure that it’s safe to do so.”
All employees were tested Monday. The cafe will remain closed until other test results come back negative, said Justin Garoutte, special assistant to the environment secretary.
The Ranch House closed Monday after discovering Sunday that an employee had tested positive. The employee’s mother works at another restaurant that has seen virus cases and she also tested positive, Ranch House co-owner Josh Baum said.
El Parasol in Santa Fe had three employees test positive. Two employees living in the same household first became infected, owner Javier Atencio said, and a third positive test result emerged when all 24 employees were tested.
“They had mild to moderate symptoms,” Atencio said.
The takeout-only restaurant closed Thursday afternoon and reopened Monday.
“I feel we have gone above and beyond,” Atencio said. “We have been sticklers about proper use of masks.”
The Santa Fe area so far has had 18 restaurants report virus cases to the Environment Department.