West Piedmont Health District notes surge in cases ahead of Franklin County School Board COVID mitigation meeting

Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 3:03 PM EST
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FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - Following Governor Youngkin’s executive order to lift the mask mandate for students, school districts across the Commonwealth are holding meetings to decide how to continue their COVID mitigation strategies.

Friday evening, Franklin County Public Schools will hold its meeting.

“We are in a surge of cases,” says Nancy Bell of the West Piedmont Health District.

According to the Virginia Department of Health website, 97 new COVID cases a day are being reported in Franklin County. That, Bell says, is higher than the county had at the first peak of the pandemic.

“The most effective COVID mitigation strategy of all is to be vaccinated. Also, even if you’re vaccinated, this,” Bell notes as she points at her mask. “All of this stuff is like a sweater. The vaccine is like a sweater. The mask is another layer you put on, until you have the whole coat.”

Franklin County Public Schools started the school year with hundreds of students under mask exemptions. Due to the CDC quarantine and contact tracing requirements at the time, hundreds of students were out of the classroom within the first two weeks of school.

Documentation became required for mask exemptions in September.

The latest vaccination data for Franklin County show just under 8% of students ages 5-11 are fully vaccinated.

“Our kids need to be wearing masks,” says Bell. “It’s more than a decision about ‘my family is boosted and I’m sending my child to school without a mask.’ It’s just the time we live in. Don’t want to step on anyone’s civil liberties, I just think it’s a time when we have to make extraordinary efforts to do the right thing.”

School officials with the district did not wish to comment until after Friday evening’s meeting.

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