STANARDSVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A Greene County man says his son is being excluded from school and kept off the football field by Virginia health officials and his own school district in a dispute over the length of COVID-19 quarantine. He’s taken his complaints all the way to Governor Ralph Northam.
It all started on William Monroe High School’s football field – where dozens of students were potentially exposed to COVID-19 during a game on March 20. In the days since then, many of the students’ tests have come back negative, including Stephen Fitch’s son.
“What happened after that is where I call it in my complaint - a tragedy,” Fitch said.
It wasn’t until after Monroe’s game that Fitch and his son were notified that a member of the team had tested positive. The team cancelled its last game of the season, and his son isolated in line with protocols.
After several days of being asymptomatic, he received a negative test on the March 25. Fitch’s son then received a note from their family doctor that he could end his quarantine on March 28 after showing no symptoms.
Greene County Public Schools (GCPS), citing Blue Ridge Health District (BRHD) guidance says that quarantine can’t be broken until the full 14 days have gone by. BRHD Health Director Dr. Denis Bonds affirmed that is the strongest CDC guidance, and is the policy the district is encouraging schools to abide by.
For Fitch, that’s unacceptable. He points to optional CDC guidance for shorter quarantine periods of 10 and 7 days with negative tests. He feels his son’s mental health and his education are being undermined by the decisions of the school district and the BRHD.
Fitch’s frustration culminated on Monday, when filed a formal complaint with Governor Northam. In an email, he accuses Dr. Bonds and the GCPS Director of Administrative Services Kyle Pursel of dereliction of duty, calling for their dismissal.
“They are not listening to state certified medical physicians who are in the best position to make an assessment of a patient, what their duty is, and oath to their office,” Fitch explained. “They are also bound to ensure public safety in this matter. Instead, they’re invoking their own interpretation.”
Fitch goes so far as to call for a criminal investigation. It’s unclear what laws, if any, have been violated.
The BRHD was not available for comment.