COVID-19 case confirmed on BHS construction site

Crews suspended work Friday morning and were expected to resume Tuesday, April 28.

The construction site at Brainerd High School is vacant Monday, April 27, after a worker on the crew tested positive for COVID-19 the previous week. Work was halted for five days while the site was sanitized, and crews were expected to pick back up Tuesday, April 28. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Work on the Brainerd High School construction site halted for five days following a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a worker.

A member of the crew tested positive for the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus Friday, April 24, according to Arif Quraishi, principal of project managing firm ICS.

Quraishi said Monday the person was last on the site Wednesday, April 22, and work was shut down Friday morning when the positive results came in.

Based on guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health, Quraishi said the directive was to shut down the job site for five days and sanitize all the work areas in an effort to prevent other workers from contracting the virus.

“The process was pretty clear in terms of what they wanted us to do — basically evacuate the space until we can make sure that we sanitize the space, and once that’s done they feel we can allow people to come back in at that point,” Quraishi said during a phone interview Monday.


Crews were expected to return to the job site Tuesday to continue work. In speaking with the health department, Quraishi said officials were not concerned at the time with any other workers working in close enough proximity to the sick individual to necessitate others being quarantined.

“They said if there’s any concern that we would hear either from the department of health or the Crow Wing County Public Health group,” he said. “If there was a situation like direct contact … then they may follow through with that, but at this point it didn’t seem like they were concerned.”

The main concern, he added, is notifying the individual’s family members and instructing them to self-quarantine for at least 14 days.

Quraishi said ICS also retained a certified industrial hygienist from the University of Minnesota to assist in matters related to COVID-19, and that individual, he said, gave the same recommendations as the health department.

“Nobody knows 100%, so the recommendation is, he said, after three days typically the virus in the space is not going to survive,” Quraishi said. “But at the same time he said give it five days, and then if you’re already doing the disinfection, then you could go back right after that, but he said as a precaution I would recommend just wait the five days so that you’re really not exposing anybody else.”

Quraishi said he is also working to get in contact with Crow Wing County Public Health, but had not heard back yet as of Monday afternoon.

Damien Williams, ICS project manager overseeing all the Brainerd Public Schools projects, said during recent school board meetings crews on the construction sites are taking precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, including social distancing, not taking joint lunch breaks and using handwashing stations as often as possible.

The school district’s main concern, according to Superintendent Laine Larson, is health and safety. The district will continue to work with ICS and the other contractors, she said Monday afternoon, to ensure the safety of all workers.


“I’m really proud of our building and grounds team and our consultants for the regular cleanings that they do on these sites,” she said. “And we have gone through an extra time to ensure that everything’s ready for tomorrow (Tuesday), and I’m just really proud of my building and grounds team for the work that they do ensuring that everything is cleaned on a regular basis.”

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .
Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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