By Callie Hietala
Henry County students returned to school on Monday, August 16 and, so far, COVID case counts in each individual school remain relatively low.
A total of six new cases were reported among school staff for the week of August 6 through 13, just before the beginning of Henry County’s school year, and 15 people were in quarantine. Two cases were from Bassett High School, two from Sanville Elementary, one from GW Carver Elementary, and one from Fieldale-Collinsville Middle School.
For the week of August 13 through 20, the first week with students back in the classrooms, three new positive cases were reported among school staff, along with 16 new student cases.
Meadow View Elementary had the highest positive case count with five positive cases. Drewry Mason Elementary reported four positive cases, Magna Vista High had three, Laurel Park Middle and FC Middle each reported two, and Axton Elementary, Bassett High, and Campbell Court Elementary each reported one positive COVID-19 case. A total of 72 students and staff were in quarantine last week according to the dashboard data.
The dashboard states that “it is important to note that quarantine cases may not be the result of a case on campus but do impact the school/department and, therefore, are included in the data.”
The school system provides the online dashboard to, according to its website, “provide the school community with a transparent summary of COVID-19 cases.” The dashboard is updated weekly and can be accessed at www.henry.k12.va.us/domain/2635. The update “indicates the number of new cases that a student or staff member has tested positive for an active COVID-19 infection for the specific week.”
“As COVID cases continue to present in our community, our school staff members will be working with students to continue to emphasize healthy hygiene practices and we will continue to practice COVID cleaning protocols in all of our facilities,” said Monica Hatchett, director of communications for the school system.
“The division is maintaining a weekly dashboard update on our website so that members of the school community have access to the summary information provided there. Any student who has been exposed to a person who tests positive for COVID will receive a phone call from our contact tracers and all members of any class that has a COVID positive case will receive an email containing information regarding the positive case (in some instances, letters may also be sent to a grade level/team, wing of a school, or to the entire school). If you have not received a call regarding your student’s need to quarantine, your student has not been directly exposed and you should plan to proceed with in-person instruction as usual.”
The website states that “individuals who test positive are excluded from participation in any in-person/on-campus activity until the school nurse verifies that the individual meets the return criteria set by the Virginia Department of Health.”
Beulah Aggrey, MPH, COVID-19 Epidemiologist, Virginia Department of Health, West Piedmont Health District said, “At the health department, we continue to conduct case/cluster/outbreak investigations when we receive reports of cases at schools and we provide guidance/recommendations to cases, parents, and schools leadership. “
According to the Virginia Department of Health’s COVID-19 data, as of August 23, a total of 384 children ages 0-9 have tested positive for virus in the health district, which includes Henry County and the City of Martinsville. The data also indicates that 1,281 positive cases have been reported in individuals between the ages of 10 and 19 in the district.
For more information on COVID-19 in the state and the region, visit vdh.virginia.gov.