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Roanoke County tracking COVID transmission rates in schools

Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 10:27 PM EDT
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ROANOKE CO., Va. (WDBJ) - Roanoke County Public Schools officials are keeping a close eye on COVID transmission at Northside High School, where nearly 1/3 of the freshman class is now under quarantine. Within two days this past week, 78 Northside High School students were exposed.

The 27 students who were vaccinated do not have to quarantine unless they start experiencing symptoms.

“Basically what we had to do was quarantine three entire classrooms,” says Dr. Stegall. “If we continue to get cases, we’re going to have to go back and shut down the ninth grade.”

According to the district’s dashboard, 19 students at Northside high school have tested positive for the virus this week.

The outbreak is currently contained to the ninth grade; meanwhile, transmission rates are still trending up, with no sign of coming back down.

“What closes down a classroom is not the number of cases, it’s the number of cases that are transmitting to other kids in that classroom,” explains Dr. Rhonda Stegall, Executive Director of Administration. “We’re hopeful that by getting these kids out of the building who have been getting exposed, if they happen to test positive, they’re not going to be transmitting. We can shut this down quickly and get the kids back in the schools without having to shut down the ninth grade and even more grades.”

Hidden Valley Middle School and Cave Spring High School also saw high spikes in cases, with multiple cheerleading activities across the district paused due to exposure.

“We’re trying to catch the students up for gaps in learning that we know individual students have, move forward with learning, attend to their social-emotional needs on top of that dealing with frequent absences...it’s a monumental task that our schools are facing,” said Dr. Ken Nicely, the district’s Superintendent.

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