ALBEMARLE Co., Va. (WVIR) - A school division employee at Stone-Robinson Elementary School has tested positive for COVID-19, according to an email sent to parents by Albemarle County Public Schools.
The positive test, which came over the weekend, is the eighth connected to ACPS since its schools started mostly virtually in early September. Seven staff members and one contractor have tested positive.
“We are working with the health department to determine if there were any close contacts of this employee during the time when they were infectious,” the email reads.
The note also confirms that the employee will be in isolation for “at least 10 days," and that any close contacts will be notified to quarantine “for 14 days from the time of the exposure.”
Phil Giaramita, a spokesperson with the county schools, applauded the efforts of the staff members who have tested positive.
"They’ve done exactly what they’re supposed to do, what the public health guidance has recommended they do,” Giaramita said. “When they begin experiencing symptoms they stayed home, they got tested immediately, they didn’t come back to work until they had the results of the test, and when the results were positive, they worked with us and the health department with the contract tracing a piece of it.”
The email continued to offer reassurance that the schools are taking public health guidance into consideration.
“The health and well-being of all students and staff is our highest priority,” the email reads. “We will continue to consult with our health department, vigorously implement our health plan for the disinfection of surfaces and the enforcement of hand hygiene, require the wearing of face coverings, and enforce physical distancing.”
Last week, the Albemarle County School Board voted 4-3 in favor of moving to Stage 3 of learning, which will allow PreK-3rd grade to operate in a hybrid model, with a two-day-a-week in-person learning schedule. That is expected to begin on Nov. 9, the start of the second quarter of the school calendar.
Many people in the county have concerns about the health and safety of students, staff, and teachers.
“We received the plan, the health department here reviewed our plan and approved it, so we feel pretty safe about the measures that we’ll have in place,” Giaramita said. "We’ve invested about a million and a half dollars in our various health and safety protection measures.”
Those dollars helped upgrade the air filtration systems in every school, purchase misting machines, and set-up isolation rooms where anyone displaying symptoms during school can go before they are picked up.
Giaramita also says he expects ACPS will be able to staff the schools with enough teachers who want to be in the building.
“I think one of the ways to support the teachers is to preserve the element of choice which is a teacher can elect to continue to teach virtually," he said. "A leave of absence, for example, would allow them to stay home and see how the progress of the pandemic evolves.”