31 students back in class after cross contamination mistake found

Spectrum Health issues statement on the issue
Safely Back to School
Posted at 6:03 PM, Sep 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-16 19:10:30-04

ALLENDALE, Mich. — When school districts put in place their plans for in person learning, it was expected that many would have some cases of Covid pop up during the school year. But what happened in Allendale this past week may not have been expected, but fortunately has been rectified. A student at Allendale Middle School had their Covid 19 test results come back positive on Friday, so the district quickly used seating charts and tried to track down where the student normally sits during lunch, and determined that 30 other students also needed to quarantine for two weeks from the last time they had been within six feet of that student for more than 15 minutes.

However just three days later, on Monday, Superintendent Dr. Garth Cooper got word from the Ottawa County Health Department that there had been a testing error, so the student in question was tested again and it came back negative. “I believe it was a Spectrum technician who discovered that there were more positive results than they would normally anticipate when they run a batch of tests and they realized that there may have been an issue with some cross contamination,” Dr. Cooper explained to Fox 17 Tuesday.

All 31 students were allowed to return to school on Tuesday after missing fewer than two full days, instead of what could have been up to ten school days. While frustrating, Dr. Cooper is thankful the problem was fixed and is using it as a learning experience for his district. “So kudos to that person for having the awareness to say, ‘There’s something not quite right here’. We learned some things about internal communication and communication with parents that I think we can improve on, so from that perspective, as an educator, you always like those moments when you can learn from them. I think we're pretty happy with the way the school year has started out, pretty fortunate, we're going to stay vigilant, keeping our buildings clean and following social distancing rules whenever we can,” Dr. Cooper said on Tuesday.

Fox 17 received a statement from Spectrum Health Tuesday afternoon saying “ Providing high quality care and accurate, efficient testing during the COVID-19 pandemic is a top priority for us at Spectrum Health. We were disappointed to learn that a batch of COVID-19 tests were adversely affected by a specimen processing issue. Our laboratory team acted quickly when they discovered the problem, notifying families and retesting as appropriate. We understand this situation may have caused disruption and anxiety for the families affected. We want to clarify that this issue was not related to false positive results. The COVID-19 tests we provide are very accurate and have a very low false positive rate. We regret any inconvenience and want to reassure the community that we have addressed this issue in our laboratories.”