In-person classes to resume Thursday

Rappahannock County Public School Superintendent Shannon Grimsley sent notice to families on Tuesday that the investigation into the isolated outbreak associated with the high school wrestling team was complete. Grimsley wrote that “potentially exposed individuals have been contacted and quarantined according to our health and safety plan.”

Students can return to in-person classes on Thursday, Jan. 21.

News sent to the homes of high school students earlier this week was not what parents and guardians wanted to hear: 

“We are switching RCHS to distance learning on Tuesday, January 19 in order to complete contact tracing and further monitor [a new] outbreak to determine if there are additional risks of exposure or the need to quarantine classes according to our COVID School Response Plan …

“Staff at RCHS should be prepared for the possibility that RCHS may be on distance learning for two weeks in accordance with our plan.”

As for the elementary school?

“At this time, RCES is unaffected and may resume as normal,” Grimsley wrote in her two page letter.

The unfortunate news surrounds “what appears to be an isolated outbreak associated with the RCHS wrestling team,” revealed the superintendent, who writes in full:

“In order to complete a thorough investigation and provide additional time for contact tracing to better ascertain the possible exposure risk to other students and staff members at RCHS, the high school will switch to distance learning on Tuesday, January 19. Also, all wrestling activities, practices, and games will be suspended for a period of two weeks in order to contain the spread of COVID-19. 

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“Rappahannock County Elementary School is unaffected at this time and is able to remain open and resume business as usual. We have been working closely with the Rappahannock Rapidan Health Department to determine risk of transmission as well as determine close contacts. If you or your child are ever identified as having been potentially exposed, an RCHS school nurse will contact you to ask that you please stay home and monitor for symptoms of cough, shortness of breath, or a temperature higher than 100.4°F, and practice social distancing for 14 days from your last contact. If you have not been contacted by the school nurse, you do not need to stay home or exclude yourself from activities at this time. 

“We will send another notice by the evening of Tuesday, January 19 to parents and guardians updating you on further details of the situation as we complete the investigation. 

“Parents should continue to monitor their child’s health and the health of their families for COVID-19 symptoms. Children with COVID-19 generally have mild, cold-like symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, and cough. Vomiting and diarrhea have also been reported in some children. 

“Children with certain underlying medical conditions, such as chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma, serious heart conditions, or weak immune systems, might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Contact your child's healthcare provider regarding any concerns. 

“People without symptoms do not need to seek care or be tested. Those who become ill should contact their healthcare provider. Their doctor, in consultation with public health officials, will determine appropriate care and whether testing is necessary. If your child has been exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19, please report this to your school. This information will be kept confidential. If your child is tested, please ensure your child stays home until test results are reported.

“Schools continue to utilize Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations on Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, to reduce viral transmission and keep our children and school personnel healthy and safe. Parents and family members can assist this effort by promoting healthy behaviors and following these practices: 

● Stay home from school or work if sick, even if symptoms are mild. 

● Wear a face covering in areas where physical distancing is difficult to maintain. 

● Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue (or sleeve), and then throw the tissue in the trash. Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 

● Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. 

● Avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. 

● Clean and disinfect surfaces that are often touched. 

● Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 

● Take care of your health overall. Stay current on your vaccinations, including the flu vaccine, eat well, and exercise to help your body stay resilient. 

“The Virginia Department of Health provides information about COVID-19 and frequently asked questions (FAQ) from parents and concerned family members. The CDC offers tips to keep children healthy during this time. The Virginia Department of Education’s produced COVID-19: A Parent Guide for School Age Children and provides additional considerations for students with disabilities, guidance for military families and social emotional wellness for parents and caregivers.”

Meanwhile, Grimsley said “all wrestling practices, activities, and matches have been suspended for two weeks to contain the spread associated with this outbreak.”