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How to track the COVID-19 case count at your child’s school: Numbers aren’t posted online in every district

Published: Mar. 24, 2021 at 7:57 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 13, 2021 at 12:05 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As students across the state largely return to in-person learning for the new school year, the On Your Side investigators have listed how you can track COVID-19 cases and outbreaks at each school across Central Virginia. It’s important to note that public reporting and parental notification varies widely among school districts.

Federal and state guidelines give some recommendations on who schools and local health officials should contact in the event of a COVID-19 case on a school campus. For example, administrators, students and staff members who were in direct or ‘close contact’ with the infected child or staff member (via contact tracing) will most certainly be notified. The name of the student or staff member is never revealed.

However, there’s been a change for the 2021-2022 school year. According to updated guidance by the CDC, Virginia Health Department and Virginia Department of Education, unvaccinated or vaccinated students correctly wearing masks within 3 to 6 feet of an infected individual, are not considered in “close contact” with that person. That means a child who previously would have been considered in close contact, might not be notified via contact tracing this school year, if both children were properly wearing masks.

Individual school systems can decide whether to still notify parents if their child was in proximity to an infected person, regardless of mask-wearing.

Whether a positive case in a school is made known to parents of other children (beyond contact tracing) who were in the same classroom, building, or even school district- is also left up to individual districts. The total number of COVID-19 cases in any given school building or school system also doesn’t have to be publicly displayed, including online.

A spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Education said that VDOE doesn’t have the authority to direct that school systems notify certain groups of people (beyond contact tracing) or publish COVID-19 case data publicly.

NBC12 surveyed every school district in Central Virginia. A significant portion has online COVID-19 dashboards, displaying information like the date of a positive case, number of positive cases, number of students/staff members impacted through contact tracing, school building, the total number of COVID-19 cases to-date, and additional or less data, depending on the district. Some school systems post nothing publicly.

How school systems notify parents also varies. Some districts, like Henrico, inform the entire school community of a positive case proactively. Other districts only send messages to those involved in contact tracing.

Below is a comprehensive list with links showing how school districts across Central Virginia are notifying and reporting COVID-19 data.

Henrico County Public Schools

COVID-19 dashboard, HERE.

HCPS sends a notification to parents/faculty of the entire school community when a positive case is reported.

Chesterfield County Public Schools

COVID-19 dashboard, HERE.

CCPS sends a notification to parents/faculty of the specific school building when a positive case is reported.

Richmond Public Schools

No COVID-19 dashboard

RPS superintendent posts newsletter indicating building, date, and number of COVID-19 cases.

Only students or staff members who may have been exposed are directly contacted.

Hanover County Public Schools

COVID-19 dashboard, HERE.

HCPS sends a notification to parents/faculty of the specific school building when a positive case is reported.

Colonial Heights Public Schools

COVID-19 dashboard, HERE.

“Each case in our schools is treated differently, in conjunction with VDH (Virginia Department of Health). When appropriate (texts and emails) notify families, and when there is a direct exposure individual phone calls are made. The same works for athletics.” – Superintendent Dr. William Sroufe

Petersburg Public Schools

No COVID-19 dashboard. Updates are posted on Facebook HERE.

Only students or staff members who may have been exposed are directly contacted.

Hopewell City Public Schools

COVID-19 dashboard, HERE (see tab on right side of page).

Hopewell City Public Schools sends a notification to parents/faculty of the entire school community when a positive case is reported.

Powhatan County Public Schools

COVID-19 dashboard, HERE

New Kent County Public Schools

Only students or staff members who may have been exposed are directly contacted.

Goochland County Public Schools

COVID-19 dashboard, HERE

See tab on GCPS homepage directing to the school district’s dashboard.

Spotsylvania County Public Schools

COVID-19 dashboard, HERE.

Only students or staff members who may have been exposed are directly contacted.

Louisa County Public Schools

No COVID-19 dashboard

Health/COVID-19 case updates posted online, HERE.

LCPS sends a notification to all faculty district-wide, and all parents of the specific school building when a positive case is reported.

Email notifications and translated copies are posted on a specific school’s website.

Caroline County Public Schools

COVID-19 dashboard, HERE. (set to go live again 9/1/21)

CCPS sends a notification to faculty of specific school building and parents of the entire school community when a positive case is reported.

Amelia County Public Schools

No COVID-19 dashboard

Only students or staff members who may have been exposed are directly contacted.

Nottoway County Public Schools

No COVID-19 dashboard

NCPS sends a notification to all faculty district-wide, and all parents of specific grade-level in which a positive case is reported.

Dinwiddie County Public Schools

No COVID-19 dashboard.

DCPS sends a notification to parents/faculty of the specific school building when a positive case is reported.

Fluvanna County Public Schools

COVID-19 dashboard, HERE.

FCPS sends a notification to parents/faculty of the entire school community when a positive case is reported. A notice is also posted to the school’s Facebook page.

Cumberland County Public Schools

No COVID-19 dashboard

CCPS sends a notification to parents/faculty as deemed necessary.

Prince George County Public Schools

COVID-19 dashboard, HERE.

PGCPS sends notifications to parents/faculty of the specific school building when a positive case is reported.

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