BRAWLEY — Brawley Elementary School District has reported that one of its employees has a family member who tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The district made the announcement on its website.

“We have been informed that a family member of a Brawley Elementary School District employee assigned to Witter Elementary School was diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus,” the district said. “Our employee reports they do not have symptoms. We want to let the families of Brawley Elementary School District know about this so they can be vigilant in checking for possible symptoms.”

That announcement, conveyed in its entirety in both English and Spanish was posted Sunday evening, according to BESD Superintendent Richard Rundhaug. He said the district also notified staff by email and used its Parent Link communication system to notify parents.

Due to privacy issues, Rundhaug would not disclose what the employee’s position is within the school. However, he noted, “We have no reason to believe staff or students were exposed to the virus at this point, since the employee has no symptoms.”

As of press time, there had been no new positive cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Imperial County since late Saturday night, when the county Public Health Department announced that a couple had tested positive for the virus. The department said the two “were exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 case while traveling outside of the United States.”

At last report, the two were not hospitalized and were at home in isolation.

On Sunday afternoon, it was learned that one of the patients is employed at Southwest.

Central Union School District Superintendent Ward Andrus said Monday it was only a matter of time before COVID-19 found its way into the schools. “The reality of the situation is if this virus spreads like it has in other places, many other schools, business and organizations in our community will also have confirmed cases,” he said. “Our school was just the first one.” 

Andrus said district employees who are potentially affected were notified, and staff who worked directly with the infected employee are not reporting to work until further notice.

Other Southwest staff have been assured that if they have not worked closely with the employee and have not been contacted by the Public Health Department, they are not at risk, he said.

Andrus said the district is doing all it can to limit personal interactions. “We are doing interviews for open positions online. We are adjusting the way we distribute meals, having the family members pick up the number of needed lunches off a table, rather than directly handing them out. We have closed our offices and sent home as many employees as possible,” he said.

Andrus said the district’s thoughts and prayers are with those who have the virus and who are fighting it.

“We are deeply concerned about our students and how they are coping with the fear that is prevalent,” he said. “We are concerned with all our employees and the work we ask them to do, because they too are concerned and are doing their best they can, given our situation.”

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