Henrico Schools absentee numbers drop | Changes made to quarantine guidelines

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 5:58 PM EST
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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - In Henrico County, the school system is seeing a slight decrease when it comes to the number of employees absent, but the district is also making some changes when it comes to quarantining from COVID-19.

On Monday, County Manger John Vithoulkas said more than 500 teachers and staff were out due to COVID-19 and other reasons. As of Wednesday, that number is now under 400.

However, Henrico County Public Schools (HCPS) continues to deal with the surge of coronavirus cases across the area.

During the first week in January, HCPS reported 262 new COVID-19 cases. While this year’s overall total is nearing 2,000, school leaders said Thursday they’re focused on making sure the mitigation efforts in schools are strong as the Omicron variant hits close to home.

Keeping teachers in the building has been a challenge recently. As of Wednesday, 395 school employees were out due to COVID or other reasons.

As for student absences, data from last Jan. 6-7 showed there were a handful out as well.

“While the overall student attendance was 94.2% to the conquerable two days in 2019, last week the overall student attendance was 82.9%,” said HCPS Chief of Staff Dr. Beth Teigen.

The school system is re-enforcing its safety strategies as the Omicron variant takes over; focusing on vaccinations, testing, and masking.

“Four-thousand KN95 masks have been distributed across our 72 schools and program centers to provide staff an additional option for PPE,” Teigen said. More masks have been ordered as well.

However, with Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin leading Virginia come Saturday, some people are wondering what could happen with universal masking.

Youngkin has talked about allowing it to be a parent’s choice on whether their child should mask up at school.

In Aug. 2021 the Henrico County school board voted for universal masking regardless of vaccination status.

“Even if the mask mandate is lifted by the Governor, existing HCPS protocols would remain in place unless they were changed by our school board,” said HCPS spokeswoman Eileen Cox.

Beyond masking, HCPS also updated its quarantine guidance for close contacts who are not fully vaccinated. The change aligns with the new CDC and Virginia Department of Health guidance issued this month.

“COVID testing is recommended on day 5 and the individual may return on day 6 if a negative test result, symptom free, and 24 hours fever-free without fever-reducing medication can be verified,” Teigen said.

For those who are 18 or older, and eligible for the booster, need to have received it to avoid the new quarantine rules. Close contacts who are fully vaccinated and boosted do not have to quarantine at all.

The new quarantine measures will go into effect starting Friday, Jan. 14.

Meanwhile, HCPS’s isolation guidance did not change, despite changes from the CDC.

“Anyone testing positive for COVID must remain at home for 10 days,” HCPS said.

For more information on HCPS’s health safety plan, click here.

Copyright 2022 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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