Quarantines on the Rise


Wikimedia Commons provided by TisTip

27 students in quarantine and zero active COVID-19 cases. May 5 made one month since reopening to four-day in-person instruction in Fauquier County Public Schools.

With May 5 marking a month since Fauquier County Public Schools (FCPS1) opened to four day, in-person learning, positive COVID-19 cases which saw a surge in April, have since declined along with the number of students quarantined.
According to the FCPS1 COVID-19 District Dashboard, over the past four weeks, there have been student cases at the high school, middle school and elementary school levels. “My thoughts are that we cannot let our guards down. All of us need to stick to the mitigation standards we’ve developed,” said Superintendent David Jeck.
According to FHS Principal Kraig Kelican, the high number cases from the first two to three weeks were most likely contracted over Spring break due to the incubation time of the symptoms. With positive cases reaching as high 11 and resulting in a one time high of 141 students in quarantine. The rise in COVID-19 cases during those two weeks was expected but “what we didn’t expect to see is quite that many coming in at the same time,” said Kelican.
Many like junior Olivia Jackson and freshman Marshall Graham were unhappy with the quarantine situation, missing out on social interactions and their peers. “I hate it. I was only back one day and then I was sent home. It’s confusing at home. I can’t wait to get back. I really don’t like online sometimes,” said Graham.
The change in quarantine protocol for FCPS1 contact-traced students was released in the midst of the heightened numbers. Students who reported a negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test after seven days or showed no symptoms after 10 days could return before the previous 14-day quarantine period was over. Additionally, students who are fully vaccinated do not have to quarantine for six months from the positive test date. Those who recovered from COVID do not have to quarantine for 90 days.
In addition, FCPS1 changed the mask mandate policy in accordance with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Virginia Health Department (VHD) recent protocol changes. Students will no longer have to wear a mask outdoors when social distancing.
“It’s a virus, and I’m depending on the experts to give me the guidance and recommendation. I’m sure that’s where the school system is. I think, if you look at a lot of the factors and you look at things like, you know, the positivity rate for certain age groups, I think there’s some flexibility. I think that’s what the CDC is looking at and trying to make adjustments since this is a new area for all of us,” said Kelican.
According to Jeck, there is a possibility of a schedule adjustification for the remainder of the school year if cases get too high. “When we introduced the plan to return to four days per week of in-person instruction, we made it clear that metrics would be monitored and that it was always a possibility that we’d have to pivot again if it became necessary,” said Jeck.
Kelican said, “I think for the most part, and even in school, the majority of our students follow mitigation. They hand sanitize [and] mostly keep their masks up…But, I think it’s inevitable that when you are an active adolescent, you’re going to find viruses in different places, and you’re going to contract it, but we just need to mitigate the best we can to try to control it.”