The number of COVID-19 cases in Halifax County Public Schools continues to grow.
As of Tuesday, 57 individuals had reported to HCPS that they had tested positive for COVID-19, according to their online dashboard. The dashboard does not list the numbers of individuals quarantining as a result of the positive cases.
There are approximately 4,681 students enrolled in HCPS.
COVID-19 cases have been popping up in local schools ever since the first week of school.
By the fourth day of the school year, 91 students and eight employees were quarantining at home due to either testing positive for COVID-19 or due to being in close contact with others who had tested positive for COVID-19.
The dashboard, which is updated daily, does not indicate if the individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 is a student or employee. It shows positive cases of COVID-19 since Aug. 30 and notes that each positive case prompts a contact trace by the school.
The nurses at the school system are trained to contact trace, and according to the CDC, contacts are those who were within six feet of an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes.
Some individuals have pushed for even more transparency, and would like for everyone in the classroom to know when an individual tests positive for COVID-19.
But Superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg said, “We tell exactly who needs to know” calling the information confidential.
He also shared information regarding teachers who have to quarantine. Teachers who have received a COVID-19 vaccine receive 10 paid days at home, and those who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine use sick days, according to Lineburg.
He explained that this process was used based off of advice received from the Virginia Department of Health and legal counsel.
Even though there are dozens of students who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are quarantining at home due to being a contact, Lineburg reported at the September school board meeting that there had been no transmission of COVID-19 in local schools.
Lineburg said Tuesday that they had identified two transmissions since then, but he feels that’s still a good indicator that they have the correct COVID-19 mitigation strategies in place.
“I’m confident that we’re doing our best, but we also know the challenges we face,” the superintendent said. He recognizes that numbers of COVID-19 cases and transmission in schools could change tomorrow.
Breaking down the number of COVID-19 cases reported in each school from Aug. 30 to Tuesday, Halifax County High School had 13 and Halifax County Middle School followed with 11 cases.
Clays Mill Elementary and Cluster Springs Elementary have had seven cases and South Boston Elementary School has had six cases.
Meadville Elementary has reported three cases since the start of school, and Scottsburg Elementary and Sinai Elementary have reported two cases.
At the beginning of the school year, parents of HCPS students received alerts when there was a positive COVID-19 case in one of the local schools. Those have since ceased.
According to Lineburg, the school system received feedback from parents saying the alerts were “too much.”
They since switched to the dashboard on the school system’s website that is available at all times.
The superintendent said they entered the school with safety as their top priority, and that hasn’t changed.
“We talk about safety every single day,” said Lineburg. He also noted that they had a principal meeting Thursday, and safety was one of their main focuses.
When he visits schools, he said students and staff are masked up, and they’re disinfecting regularly.