AMESBURY — An Amesbury Jets Youth Football and Cheering banquet Nov. 15 was the source of a COVID-19 outbreak that has led to 18 identified cases and two students being sent home from school Monday.

According to a press release from city communications director Caitlin Thayer, 16 of the 18 cases were traced directly back to the end-of-season banquet at the Newburyport Elks Lodge as of Monday. Two in-school transmission cases have also been identified, Thayer said.

According to the city, contact tracing identified about 250 people who were exposed to the virus at the banquet, including many students in grades 2-8.

The press release said the school district has been in touch with each of the families that attended the banquet and provided them with take-home COVID-19 tests for students, cheerleaders, players and siblings.

More than 75 on-site tests were also done on students at Amesbury Middle School, Cashman Elementary and Amesbury Elementary on Monday.

Public health nurse Tina LaCourse said two Amesbury Elementary students were sent home after testing positive Monday morning. Each student who tested negative on Monday returned to class.

State Rep. Jim Kelcourse, R-Amesbury, is the president of Amesbury Jets Youth Football and Cheering. Kelcourse said Monday he had contacted Gov. Charlie Baker’s office as soon as he heard about the reported exposure over the weekend.

Kelcourse said Jeffrey Riley, the state commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, delivered 192 test kits to Superintendent Elizabeth McAndrews Saturday evening, which were then distributed to potentially affected families.

“Superintendent McAndrews let me know that they needed help,” Kelcourse said. “The schools wanted to get something done by Sunday. But they didn’t have the resources to test all of these kids. So I immediately contacted the governor’s office and Jeff Riley personally delivered 192 COVID-19 test kits Saturday night.”

Kelcourse said he, McAndrews, and LaCourse distributed the test kits on Sunday.

Families that were unable to pick up take-home tests were able to take advantage of the in-school testing on Monday.

On-site testing was also provided for any students who were identified as close contacts and will continue through the the school week, which ends on Wednesday because of the holiday.

Anyone identified as a close contact from the Nov. 15 banquet was told to test daily or quarantine for seven days after Sunday, Nov. 21.

Each student will need to provide a negative COVID-19 test result before returning to school. Any student who tests positive must quarantine for 10 days, and can only return to school after testing negative.

According to McAndrews, the district has protocols in place to keep students and staff safe.

“As the COVID-19 vaccine availability has opened to our younger students, I encourage households to get their students vaccinated,” McAndrews said. “I also hope that, as we enter the holiday season, households will take the necessary precautions to help us limit the spread of the coronavirus and help us keep students healthy and schools open.”

Thayer said the Lower Merrimack Valley Regional Collaborative is holding COVID-19 vaccination clinics for children ages 5 to 11 at the West Newbury Town Office Building Annex, 381 Main St. The next vaccination clinic is scheduled Monday, Nov. 29, from 4 to 7 p.m. Appointments are available at https://vaxfinder.mass.gov/.

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

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