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UPDATED: St. Clair County Schools student tests positive for COVID-19

St. Clair Schools Superintendent Mike Howard

Superintendent Mike Howard shares with board members during a recent meeting.

The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in St. Clair County was apparently a student in the county school system.

St. Clair County Schools Superintendent Mike Howard released a letter to parents Tuesday confirming a student in the system has tested positive for the virus.

“Today (Tuesday), we were contacted by a parent of one of our students that has a confirmed case of COVID-19,” Howard wrote. “While it is unknown when this student contracted the virus, this family was advised by the ADPH (Alabama Department of Public Health) to contact everyone that the student has had contact with over the last two weeks.

“Therefore, out of our responsibility to you and your family, we are sending this notification to inform you that students attending Virtual Preparatory Academy and St. Clair County High School may have been exposed to COVID-19 through contact with this student.”

The Alabama Department of Public Health announced a confirmed case in St. Clair County on Tuesday morning but released no information other than the home county of the patient. A call to the St. Clair County Health Department was referred to the state Health Department.

Howard, in his letter, encouraged parents to monitor themselves and their families for fever, cough, body aches and shortness of breath.

He wrote that if they developed one or more of those symptoms, they should call their doctor or nearest urgent care for guidance. If shortness of breath is severe, he encouraged them to seek emergency treatment at an ER or by calling 911.

He also asked parents to report a confirmed case of COVID-19 to or call 205-594-7131 and leave a message.

“Please continue to practice social distancing by remaining at home with your family unless it is for work or obtaining essential items like food and medicine,” Howard wrote. “Practice good hand washing and respiratory etiquette for coughs and sneezes.

“Should a family member develop the symptoms listed, please isolate this person from other members of the family and your pets.”

Howard wrote system officials had already begun the process of disinfecting schools in preparation for students returning April 6. He added the CDC website is an “excellent resource to find reliable answers to your questions.”

“We encourage you to educate yourselves on what you can do to protect yourself and your family,” Howard wrote. “Please know that we have only your safety and well-being at heart and will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as needed on our website,”

Staff writer Taylor Mitchell contributed to this story.