In the first week of classes, eight students in the Albemarle County school division tested positive for COVID-19 along with four staff members, according to the school system’s dashboard.
Additionally, 21 students and one staff member are currently quarantining because of exposure during the last week. The majority of the people are in quarantine because of exposure on school buses, division COO Rosalyn Schmitt told county School Board members Thursday evening.
That’s because the definition of who is considered a close contact is different on a school bus versus the classroom, where a child who comes within three to six feet of an infected student doesn’t have to quarantine if both were wearing masks correctly and consistently for the entire time.
On a school bus, anyone within a six-foot radius of an infected person must quarantine, Schmitt said. To identify the children who were exposed, Schmitt said they looked at the security videos from buses and will be using assigned seating moving forward.
“So we’re confident we quarantine the right people, but it did take a little more time to do it,” Schmitt said.
Monday was the first day of school in Albemarle County. The positive cases in the first week are spread across six schools and one department. So far, the cases aren’t connected, division staff said.
Last school year, the most cases reported in a week was 16.
In the Charlottesville division, which started in-person classes Wednesday, seven students and one employee have tested positive, according to the city schools dashboard.
One of the Albemarle staff members who tested positive was not vaccinated, said Eileen Gomez, the division’s COVID-19 coordinator.
Since July 1, 18 students, six staff members and one contractor have tested positive.
All division employees need to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 15 or show weekly proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
Starting next week, the division will begin surveying staff about their vaccination status. Thus far, the division has not tracked whether employees are vaccinated.
For unvaccinated staff members, the division is working to find a COVID testing provider, a system that should be up and running by the deadline, according to information provided at the meeting.
“For my own state of mind, I urge our employees to get vaccinated,” School Board member David Oberg said.
“Please. Any child who gets sick because one of our employees does not get vaccinated will crush me.”