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Mecklenburg elementary schools to stay in session

SoVaNow.com / October 07, 2020
Mecklenburg County Public Schools will remain open despite the county’s return to the red risk level for the spread of coronavirus.

Superintendent of Schools Paul Nichols confirmed he has no current plans to cease in-person classroom instruction at the elementary schools since the majority of new cases in Mecklenburg are associated with two known outbreaks — one at Baskerville Correctional Center and another at Chase City Health and Rehab.

In the past week, 88 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported in Mecklenburg County by the Virginia Department of Health.

Red is the highest level for spread of the virus, according to metrics developed by the Harvard Global Health Institute. It is the tipping point when stay-at-home orders are deemed necessary by public health experts.

When the seven-day moving average of daily cases per 100,000 of population reaches 25 or more, a locality is said to be in the red zone — regardless of whether the cases are among a population in a contained location or spread throughout the community. As of Tuesday, Mecklenburg County’s seven-day moving average was 36 cases per 100,000.

Since the county’s elementary schools reopened on Sept. 8, Nichols said there has been limited exposure to the virus at school facilities.

Clarksville Elementary School started the year without its principal, assistant principal and one teacher after they were forced to quarantine because of contact with an exposed person. They were back at the school before the end of the first week of classes.

The school division also had to quarantine one class at LaCrosse, one at South Hill and a third at Chase City Elementary after students and staff at those schools was exposed to the virus. The entire schools were not shuttered, only the impacted classrooms.

In accordance with school protocols, the rooms were rigorously cleaned and sanitized before anyone could return to the class.

Nichols said “we have reason to believe that in each situation the person who tested positive contracted it [COVID-19] outside of school.” School officials have been trained to conduct contact tracing and have established protocols for that process.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Mecklenburg since the start of the outbreak now stands at 807, with 45 people currently hospitalized and 34 deaths.

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