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WAHS performance canceled after about a third of cast has COVID-19

Published: Apr. 26, 2022 at 4:57 PM EDT
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Dozens of Western Albemarle High School drama students have tested positive for COVID-19 after a weekend of performances.

Thirty-two students have COVID-19 as of Tuesday, April 26. This comes after they performed Mamma Mia, some without masks.

“I can’t say that it’s a surprise,” Albemarle County Public Schools Spokesperson Phil Giaramita said.

Giaramita says this is a reminder that the pandemic is not over.

“They felt the performances would would have much more impact without being masked,” he said. “It’s, it’s just an unfortunate consequence.”

One of the student performers had tested positive on Friday. That number quickly grew to 20, and the final show for Sunday was canceled.

Giaramita says the number of cases could go higher once they’re done contact tracing. ACPS stopped contact tracing earlier in the year, which the spokesperson says was a recommendation from the Virginia Department of Health.

“We’re looking a little bit more extended now, just not at the children who are in the play but in some of the classrooms where these kids would have attended school,” he said.

The high school’s principal called for a deep cleaning of the entire building, and WAHS started offering more masks Tuesday.

Giaramita says this is the most cases he has seen come from one event, this as the county moves from “low” community transmission to “medium.” Though he says he has not seen other schools have high increases in cases. He says others are only seeing a small increase.

“It’s sort of ebbing and flowing, and I think that’s probably the way it’s going to work. We’re going to have these increases and decreases, small, not significant increases, not like, obviously, what we saw with omicron.” Ryan McKay with the Blue Ridge Health District said.

“When you see that happening in the county, it’s usually only a matter of time before we begin to see in the schools,” Giaramita said.

He says the one thing preventing the case count from being higher is how fast students and parents were to report positive test. Giaramita says this helped other students know to start isolating, ultimately preventing furthering the spread.

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