More students sent home from Franklin County after COVID-19 exposure

Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 4:44 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The number of students in Franklin County Public Schools exposed to COVID-19 more than doubled this week.

Roswitha Braziel had to pick up her seventh-grader from Benjamin Franklin Middle School Friday afternoon after getting a call that he, too, was among more than 600 students being sent home.

“He has to quarantine and then take a test before he can go back to school,” says Braziel, frustrated with the limited information she was able to obtain from school administrators about his exposure. “Instead of the outbreaks, I wish they would close school to let it die down some.”

Other concerned parents like Michelle Martin say the school should offer a hybrid option like last year, or allow more students to go virtual to slow the spread of the virus.

“Kids weren’t in school not even two full weeks and we’ve got cases upon cases,” remarks Martin. “Last year they shut the school down because it was fewer cases than what we have now. Something’s not adding up.”

Students and staff are under a mask mandate regardless of vaccination status, but school officials say more than 20% of students have filed for a medical or religious exemption.

Martin’s daughter wears her mask to school but is still afraid of contracting the virus and bringing it home to her mother and other family members with health issues who are unable to be vaccinated.

Martin says the school needs to have better procedures to protect the community.

“They need to show some kind of proof that they need to be exempt,” says Martin. “I think they need to shut down, find out who’s vaccinated, who has it and who doesn’t, and start over and make sure the schools are kept clean,”

The school has not released any plans to shut down or offer a hybrid option.

Representatives from Franklin County tell us the health director met with school officials Friday to offer advice and show how case trends can affect the high transmission rate.

According to the Virginia Department of Education, it will ultimately be up to the school board to decide whether to close the school and switch to virtual learning.

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