BUSD employee with COVID-19

Masked Pomerene School District Superintendent Mike Sherman stands next to a Welcome Benson Bobcats sign posted in front of Pomerene School for the drive-through Grab and Go meal program. 

BENSON — A Benson Unified School District employee has been diagnosed with coronavirus, according to District Superintendent Micah Mortensen.

In a letter sent out to families, Mortensen said that the district has been working closely with the Cochise County Health Department, and that the employee is at home, being closely monitored.

Mortensen also said the employee acted responsibly and did everything that needed to be done as soon as signs of the illness came on.

“Because of this rapid action, the number of contacts this individual had after becoming ill are very minimal,” Mortensen said through the letter. “Based upon our investigation, the infected employee was in contact with only one other employee while being symptomatic.”

However, for the next two weeks the school district is taking extra precautions by suspending the Grab and Go Meal service it provides children in the district, as well as its home delivery meals.

“We’re taking this step as an abundance of caution on the district’s part, mostly because this employee had limited interaction with our food service staff prior to showing symptoms,” Mortensen said Monday in a phone interview.

“In the short term, we’ve partnered with the Pomerene School District to help us with our Grab and Go meal distribution while we’re going through this. We have a great partnership with the Pomerene District,” said Mortensen, who added, “We’re all in this together and our schools are like family.”

On average, 260 children go through the Benson meal distribution every day.

“There’s no way Pomerene could absorb our students without help, so we’ve given the district food from our meal program,” Mortensen said. “We encourage families that have been utilizing our Grab and Go meals to participate in Pomerene’s program until we’re able to start ours up again.”

Initially, the Pomerene meal distribution provided lunch only, but has now added breakfast to accommodate the system that Benson has in place. The meals are distributed Monday through Friday, from 8:30 to 10 a.m.

When Benson students arrived at Pomerene school on Monday, they were greeted by masked Superintendent Mike Sherman and a “Welcome Benson Bobcats” sign.

“Today (Monday) was the first day that we served children from Benson and it went smoothly,” Sherman said. “We had about 50 more kids through here than we typically do, and expect that number to go up once word gets out and Benson families have time to make the transition.

“We’re more than happy to help Benson get through this. They would do the same for us.”

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