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First positive COVID-19 cases reported in Roanoke County Public Schools

First positive COVID-19 cases reported in Roanoke County Public Schools

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A student and an employee at separate Roanoke County elementary schools have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the district. These are the first positive cases the district has reported since the 2020–21 school year began Monday.

The student attends Back Creek Elementary School, and the employee works at Green Valley Elementary School, according to spokesman Chuck Lionberger. The respective schools sent letters to families on Wednesday informing them of the cases.

Health officials are conducting routine contact tracing to determine the extent of exposure, Lionberger said Thursday morning. In both cases, Lionberger said school leaders don’t believe there was exposure to students.

The staff member has not been on school grounds since students returned, according to the letter to families. Lionberger also said district officials don’t believe the employee interacted with students. School leaders don’t believe the student had been in close contact with peers, either, Lionberger said.

“Close contact” is defined as being closer than 6 feet for at least 15 minutes, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

“If families are not contacted, there is no exposure” as determined by the health department, Lionberger said.

He emphasized the importance of remaining 6 feet apart, calling it “the best defense” to prevent the spread of the virus.

He also urged families to complete the district’s daily health check, which instructs families to keep their student home if they believe there may have been potential exposure or if students show symptoms.

“We knew we would have cases; it was only a matter of time,” Lionberger said, adding that the measures the district put into place were designed to minimize the number of cases.

Roanoke County students receive temperature checks upon arrival to school and wear masks when unable to consistently maintain 6 feet distance. The district has also implemented protocols such as a separate isolation room for students suspected of having the virus and intensified cleaning procedures.

Under the district’s reopening plan, students in grades pre-K through second grade are attending five days per week, while upper grades are attending two days per week with three days of virtual learning. Students also have the option to take their classes 100% online.

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K-12 Education Reporter

Claire Mitzel covers K-12 education for The Roanoke Times. Contact her at (540) 981-3334 or Follow her on Twitter: @c_mitzel.

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