By Taylor Boyd
Members of the Patrick County School Board elected Ryan Lawson and Amy Walker as chairman and vice chairman, respectively, during its reorganizational meeting on Jan. 11.
Lawson represents the Peters Creek District; Walker represents the Mayo River District.
Acting Schools Superintendent Jason Wood said the number of students and staff in quarantine due to COVID-19 and positive cases, has decreased.
“At our last board meeting, we had 33 positive cases. Currently at our last weekly report, we only had 24 positive cases,” he said.
According to a Dec. 8 update, 116 students and staff were in quarantine. As of Jan. 5, that number dropped to 25, including 11 at Patrick County High School.
Blue Ridge Elementary School reported five confirmed cases and 14 quarantines. Stuart Elementary School had four cases and six quarantined, and Hardin Reynolds Memorial School reported four positive cases and two quarantines.
Wood added that while the number of students in school for instruction is better, a spike in both cases and quarantines is expected.
The division will continue to follow the guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Wood said, and added that quarantine times and regulations were updated January 3. The changes occurred as 92 to 95 percent of all transmissions occurred within the first five days of the infection period.
Under the new guidelines, anyone testing positive will quarantine for five days. After that, if their symptoms are resolving or if they no longer show symptoms, students and staff may return to school or work, providing they wear a mask.
“If after that fifth day, their symptoms are not improving, then they must continue to quarantine for the duration of 10 days,” he said.
Students and staff must wear a mask after returning to school or work.
“There is no waiver and no exemption for wearing a mask during that 10-day quarantine period,” Wood said.
Anyone who is exposed to someone with COVID-19 and is vaccinated with no presenting symptoms does not have to quarantine, but must wear a mask for 10 days, he said.
The unvaccinated, and those who have not received a booster or second vaccine dose within the last six months, must quarantine for five days.
“If you are not exhibiting symptoms, then just as a positive case” perhaps “you can return on day six,” he said.
Students and staff should continue to wear a mask around others for five additional days and are advised to stay at home if they become symptomatic. Continuous home exposes will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
“So, the quarantine period has been cut in half. We hope this is a great benefit to our students,” Wood said, and added other superintendents and presidents of local colleges are not following these guidelines yet.
“But we want to be out front and get our students as many instructional days as we can, so we are going to follow the CDC guidance and use the reduced quarantine, which is down to five days,” he said.
In other matters, the board:
*Approved Sara Leigh Collins to serve as the clerk of the board.
*Approved Wood serve as the deputy clerk of the board.
*Set committee lists.
*Approved personnel as amended.
*Approved the consent agenda as amended.
*Reaffirmed and adopted the Virginia School Board Association’s (VSBA) Code of Conduct.
*Reaffirmed and adopted Robert’s Rules of Order.
*Approved Patrick County High School’s (PCHS) program of study.
*Approved the school calendar for the 2022-2023 academic year.