Kinhaven sends youth class home early after five employees test positive for Covid Co-director: All five have been vaccinated, are asymptomatic

By Cynthia Prairie
©2021 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Kinhaven Music School in Weston ended its two-week program for children ages 10 to 14 on Saturday, a week early, after five vaccinated employees tested positive for Covid-19.

Kinhaven co-executive director Anthony Mazzocchi said on Tuesday that while the employees are asymptomatic, the school sent the children home out of  “an abundance of caution.”

The school holds seven age-specific sessions for both adults and young musicians from around the country to learn from professionals.  While it did not open last summer during the pandemic shutdown, it did open this year with Covid protocols in place. It earlier held down-sized public concerts, Mazzocchi said, but attendees had to have a proof of vaccination.

Mazzocchi said that for the reopening this summer, the school put protocols in place that were more strict than the state’s protocols for camps. “We didn’t have anyone unvaccinated” who could be vaccinated, he said, adding that the staff, which live on campus, was mandated to be vaccinated as were the students, unless they had a medical exemption.

As the delta variant began to rise, Mazzocchi said, the school instituted stricter protocols, especially since unvaccinated young students would be attending, and that included a campus lockdown except for kitchen staff.

Other protocols, he said, include a proof of vaccination, if applicable, a negative PCR test taken before the student traveled to Kinhaven, an intake test and then another test a week into the two-week session. Staff nurses, Mazzocchi said, also do daily checks. Junior session required masks around campus, except while dining or sleeping. Since there were few wind players, masks were worn during practice. And choir members rehearsed outdoors.

“We were very successful in keeping the virus at bay, and had gone through two and a half months” of classes as well as routine testing of both faculty and students with no positives, he said. And when the youngest class arrived on Aug. 14,  everyone tested negative. But then on Aug. 21, a week into the session, Mazzocchi said, there were five positives. Of those, three have no direct contact with students and two, he said, have had only minimal contact with some of students.

Mazzocchi added that once the positives came back, the school made the decision to end classes a week early. Parents were called, he added, and the last of the 70 students was picked up on Monday. Luckily, he said, every student was from the Northeast region, which made the transportation issue a bit easier. He added that parents have been asked to inform the school if any child tests positive at home.

Mazzocchi said the staff was doing a “full investigation with faculty and staff” to understand what had happened.

The next two sessions, which consists of all vaccinated adults and last less than a week, will take place as scheduled. Each has about 25 students. And the stricter protocols will be followed, including the campus lockdown, Mazzocchi said, adding that no one has cancelled their reservations.

He added that the school has been working closely with Manchester Medical Center, which visited the campus to do all the testing of students and staff this year as well as conducting contact tracing and staying in touch with parents.

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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 30 years. She has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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