School Stock 2

Harrisonburg City Public Schools has closed one school for a week after an employee who was feeling sick visited the doctor and was told to get tested as he or she had a probable case of COVID-19, said Superintendent Michael Richards on Monday.

The Spotswood Elementary School employee notified the school principal on Sunday afternoon that he or she had been feeling sick and been tested for COVID-19. Since then, two additional employees have come forward with COVID symptoms and are also being tested.

All three employees are being quarantined until test results come back, Richards said. In the meantime, Spotswood will be closed for a minimum of seven days to wait for results to come back and to disinfect the school.

Parents were notified Sunday night in order to make child care arrangements, Richards said.

HCPS has been practicing mitigation strategies such as wearing masks and socially distancing 6 feet, as well as hand-washing. But officials were also prepared to enact containment strategies in the case of an employee contracting COVID-19, Richards said.

This is the first time the school division had to use that containment protocol. It is working with Dr. Laura Kornegay, the district director for the Virginia Department of Health, on how to proceed, Richards said.

Kornegay was the one who advised that Spotswood be shut down for at least seven days because that’s how long it can take for test results to come back. Although Richards is hoping that results will come back in four to six days, he is prepared for a longer wait time.

If the results of the employees’ tests show they have contracted COVID-19, Richards will continue to work with Kornegay on how to proceed.

No other schools in Harrisonburg have had a positive case, as far as officials are aware. Likewise, according to Rockingham County Public Schools Superintendent Oskar Scheikl, the county schools have not reported a positive case of COVID since students have returned to schools. There have been employees who tested positive since March, but there have been no cases in the schools this school year.

Harrisonburg reported 36 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total cumulative number of cases in the Friendly City to 2,184, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The number of cases and average new cases per day have increased since Aug. 27.

James Madison University began in-person instruction on Aug. 26, though it moved most classes online less than a week later as the number of cases among the JMU community began to rise. JMU has 1,316 total cases as of Sunday, according to the school’s online COVID-19 dashboard.

Contact Megan Williams at 574-6272 or mwilliams@dnronline.com. Follow Megan on Twitter @DNR_Learn

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