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Three classrooms in Chesapeake return to virtual learning, following positive COVID-19 tests

Chesapeake Public Schools sent some students and teachers back home after discovering possible linked coronavirus tests that came back positive.

CHESAPEAKE CITY, Md. — Three classrooms in Chesapeake are going back to virtual learning after positive coronavirus test results from two intermediate schools are believed to be linked.

Chesapeake Public Schools said Crestwood and Truitt Intermediate had COVID-19 cases that may have been connected. As a result of the positive tests, they sent three of the affected classrooms back home to learn online. Those individuals were considered close contacts.

“The district took swift action when the first case was reported, quarantining any possible exposures, which is exactly what needs to be done in these situations to ensure we are limiting the spread of the illness,” said Dr. Nancy Welch, Health Director for the Chesapeake Health Department. 

In mid-November, a positive coronavirus test came back from a staff member. All students and employees who may have been in contact with that person were sent home to quarantine.

The families of the students were given an option for their students to learn on-site or at-home back in September. Some students returned to on-campus learning, while others remained at home.

According to CPS, elementary school students have still been able to attend school on-site five days a week, if their parents approved.

RELATED: Some parents voice support for Chesapeake Public Schools' decision to keep students in classrooms

“When students or staff members are sent home to quarantine, we maintain regular contact throughout their absence in order to provide support and assist in monitoring their health,” said Trudy Jelderks, the District’s Health Services Supervisor. “Identifying who has potentially been exposed is only part of the challenge facing contact tracers; it’s also important to make sure these individuals are able to monitor their health and answer any questions that may arise during the period of quarantine.”

Officials said a close contact is any person who was within six-feet of an infected individual with coronavirus for at least 15 minutes.

There was one staff member from each of the two locations who were actively quarantining and had gotten a positive test result.  The Chesapeake Health Department considers the two cases to be connected, calling it an outbreak.

It said an outbreak was any two or more lab-confirmed cases in an area where there was exposure. Both cases are being monitored by the district.

The monitoring process being done by the district is how the second positive case was found. It worked alongside the Chesapeake Health Department for the entire investigation.

Being that the two infected employees had already quarantined, the schools were allowed to continue operating as normal.

“Thankfully, our School Board has given me the authority to address these situations on a school-by-school basis. This allows for the flexibility to quickly move a classroom, a hallway, or a school to online learning temporarily if needed, without interrupting the on-campus learning for all students in the district,” said Superintendent Jared Cotton. “We know how important it is to keep our schools open for those who learn best through on-campus learning, and we need to continue to do all we can to keep our students and staff members safe in the process.”

The youngest student in CPS has been on-campus learning for two months and there haven't been any transmissions of the virus between anyone.

According to CPS, the district has been enforcing strategies to keep the students and employees safe. It said if parents haven't received a personal phone call, then there is nothing they need to do and their child does not need to quarantine.

“In order to maintain in-person learning, we need everyone on board and practicing key mitigation strategies when you are around anyone who isn’t from your household. That means co-workers, too. They might feel like family, but we have to remember that these strategies are our best defense right now against any further spread of the illness,” said Jelderks. 

Officials are asking families and community members to continue following all health and safety protocols to help prevent the spread of illness.