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Franklin County parents still concerned about COVID exposure

Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 10:30 PM EDT
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ROCKY MOUNT, Va. (WDBJ) - Franklin County’s middle school and high school buildings are back open after closing for a four-day weekend that began last Friday.

However, more elementary school students in the district are now being asked to quarantine, and parents are still waiting for schools to come up with a better solution to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Michelle Martin’s daughter received notice earlier this week that she had been exposed to the virus.

Now, Martin is considering homeschooling her child.

“How many more kids have to get sick? Or be exposed and take it home to someone else?” asked Martin. “They need to shut it down and go virtual; yes, I know it’s hard on parents and teachers too, but in the same sense we need to think about our kids.”

Jason Guilliams, director of operations for Franklin County Public Schools, says the high number of students and staff exposed to the virus is what caused the shutdown of the middle school and high school buildings Friday.

“I don’t think any of us imagined what was going to happen over the last three weeks,” said Guilliams, adding the school is working with the Virginia Department of Health on ways to mitigate spread. “We went from about 1200 students out on Thursday to about 415 who were out on Tuesday after the Labor Day weekend.”

As of Wednesday, more than 600 students out of about 6,000 in the district are in quarantine.

Guilliams says closing schools is a time-consuming event that is not taken lightly, and their goal is to keep students in classrooms while also accounting for safety.

If exposed to another child or staff member who tests positive, kids can cut their 10-day quarantine short and go back to school two days earlier than planned if they get a negative COVID test.

Administrators are also hoping more students start wearing masks to avoid going home at all.

“In elementary situations, if both students are masked and are wearing their mask properly, the student who was exposed would be exempt from quarantine,” explains Guilliams. “Right now in our division, we have a little over 1,200 students that are masked exempt for religious or medical reasons, so that subjects more students to quarantine.”

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