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Hundreds of students, staff miss class in York County because of COVID-19

Nearly 300 students and staff either tested positive for the virus or came into contact with someone who did.

YORK COUNTY, Va. — A little more than a week into the new school year, and already nearly 300 students and staff in the York County School Division missed at least one day of school.

School officials say they either were diagnosed with COVID-19 or had to quarantine after coming into contact with someone who tested positive.

York County School Division’s Chief Operations Officer Dr. Jim Carroll is stressing that these cases did not happen all at once and they didn’t all happen when school started.

“It’s important to understand those numbers preceded the start of school. We started tracking numbers as soon as staff returned to the building and athletics started and the vast majority of this is community exposure," Dr. Carroll said. 

“We had a lot that came in over the weekend. So the Labor Day weekend is a little bit worrisome about how that’s going to turn out but we’ll see in the coming days on that," he continued.

Students in York County returned to the classroom last Monday.

“We do have about, I think right now, it’s currently closer to 200 students that are either positive or on a quarantine,” Dr. Carroll said. 

It’s an issue that isn’t limited to York Country. Across the country, hospitals are seeing a rise in pediatric cases as the more contagious Delta variant spreads.

Peninsula Health District Population Health Community Coordinator Tes La Dieu said parents need to take note: we are still in the middle of the pandemic. 

“I think it is a wake-up call which is really unfortunate, and it can be very scary," she said. “At the beginning of this pandemic we didn’t really see children getting sick as much and so we really saw COVID as this virus that only affected adults.”   

Dr. Carroll said the school has safety precautions in place to try and prevent outbreaks, including daily health screenings prior to showing up at school.

He said the division is still following safety protocols put in place last year like mask-wearing, enhanced cleaning and social distancing.  

Dr. Carroll’s message to parents and staff is simple --- if you’re sick, stay home. 

La Dieu agrees.

“This is definitely a more serious virus, and the pandemic is not over and it’s not a waning pandemic for sure," La Dieu said.