CHESAPEAKE, Va. - Three classrooms in the Chesapeake Public Schools system have temporarily moved to online learning after the district reported positive COVID-19 cases.
Over the weekend, school epi-links were discovered at two Chesapeake Intermediate schools: Crestwood and Truitt Intermediate. This means test results that were received are believed to be linked to previously reported cases.
School officials say the affected classrooms had already made the shift to online learning. In each case, an employee tested positive for the virus in mid-November, and all students in the affected classrooms, as well as any employees determined to be close contacts, were sent home to quarantine.
A close contact is defined as anyone who was within six feet of a person infected with COVID-19 for at least fifteen minutes. Since that time, two more employees, one in each location, who had been on active quarantine also received positive test results, bringing the total number of cases in each location to two.
As a result, the Chesapeake Health Department has determined the two cases in each location are linked and, therefore, will be labeled as an outbreak. An outbreak is defined as two or more lab confirmed cases in a defined area of exposure.
The district is closely monitoring these situations.
“When students or staff members are sent home to quarantine, we maintain regular contact throughout their absence in order to provide support and assist in monitoring their health,” said Mrs. Trudy Jelderks, the district’s Health Services supervisor. “Identifying who has potentially been exposed is only part of the challenge facing contact tracers; it’s also important to make sure these individuals are able to monitor their health and answer any questions that may arise during the period of quarantine.”
This monitoring process is what led to the discovery of the second positive test result in each location and the determination of a probable link. The district worked closely with the Chesapeake Health Department throughout their investigation. Since all individuals impacted by these situations were already quarantined, there was no need to change the operational status of the schools.
“The district took swift action when the first case was reported, quarantining any possible exposures, which is exactly what needs to be done in these situations to ensure we are limiting the spread of the illness,” said Dr. Nancy Welch, Health Director for the Chesapeake Health Department.
The latest update to the COVID Case Dashboard on the district’s website was at 4 p.m. and reflects the outbreak information.
“Thankfully, our School Board has given me the authority to address these situations on a school-by-school basis. This allows for the flexibility to quickly move a classroom, a hallway, or a school to online learning temporarily if needed, without interrupting the on-campus learning for all students in the district,” said Superintendent Jared Cotton. “We know how important it is to keep our schools open for those who learn best through on-campus learning, and we need to continue to do all we can to keep our students and staff members safe in the process.”
Chesapeake Public Schools began welcoming students back to on-campus learning in September and families were offered a choice between on-campus and at-home learning. Currently, students at the elementary level can attend school five days per week if their parents selected that option.
CPS has had its youngest learners on campus for two months without any known student-to-student, student-to-teacher or teacher-to-student transmissions in schools. The district has worked to implement key mitigation strategies since the year began and continues to emphasize their importance.
“In order to maintain in-person learning, we need everyone on board and practicing key mitigation strategies when you are around anyone who isn’t from your household. That means co-workers, too. They might feel like family, but we have to remember that these strategies are our best defense right now against any further spread of the illness,” said Jelderks.
If your family did not receive a personal call, no action is required and your children do not need to quarantine. Families and community members are encouraged to continue following all health and safety protocols to help prevent the spread of illness, including remembering the 4 Ws:
- WEAR your face mask
- WASH your hands often or use sanitizer
- WATCH your distance between others
- WAIT until you’re well to return to work or school