ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Some students and teachers across Albemarle county are gearing up to head back to some in-person learning. Virginia’s Department of Health is preparing as well.
The VDH now has a new dashboard to show you which localities and which schools have COVID-19 outbreaks in progress. This will include all K-12 public, private, charter, and independent schools.
“I think it’s important for everyone to understand that we’ll see cases emerge, and we should anticipate an outbreak occurring,” Thomas Jefferson Health District COVID-19 Incident Commander Ryan McKay said. "I think that’s just given the nature of the disease.”
The dashboard will report if an outbreak of two or more cases occurs, but that won’t mean the school has to shut down.
“If we see an outbreak in a facility, doesn’t mean that facility is going to need to close for 14 days,” McKay said.
Cases from exposure outside the school setting are not included on the dashboard unless the virus is passed on to someone at the school. McKay says, so far, K-12 schools in central Virginia are far from becoming super spreaders.
"Despite what we are seeing in other settings, it’s just not happening within K-12 schools,” he said.
Louisa, Greene, and Madison county public schools have already returned for partial in-person instruction. Only one outbreak of three cases has been reported in Greene County at Ruckersville Elementary School.
“That’s really an attribute to the execution of plans that had been worked on over late spring and summer and then put into place really effectively throughout the fall,” McKay said.
Albemarle County Public Schools are heading back for Phase 3 of hybrid in-person instruction in less than two weeks.
“We know there’s a lot of concern in the community and we believe that will help tear down some of that concern if we’re as transparent as possible,” ACPS COVID-19 Coordinator Eileen Gomez said.
While ACPS has its own COVID-19 dashboard already, it plans to use the VDH one as well.
“It will probably help parents to see statewide we have very few outbreaks just two current outbreaks right now across the whole state, and we’ve had no outbreaks in our local Thomas Jefferson Health District,” Gomez said. "Schools don’t, at this point, seem to be the super spreader places that we thought they might be.”
The dashboard will be updated every Friday. Outbreaks will be listed as “in progress” until 28 days go by without a new case. To take a look at the dashboard yourself, click here.