PRINCE GEORGE COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Prince George County Public Schools said as of Monday, 52 people are in quarantine after coming into contact with a positive case of COVID-19 at Prince George High School.
The district did not disclose how many individuals were students or staff, citing privacy concerns.
Since students came back from break on Jan. 4, the district said the high school has had a total of 34 cases of COVID-19.
PGCPS said when a positive case is detected, the individual is asked to isolate and school nurses begin aiding in contact tracing. Anyone who has close contact with the positive person, meaning has been within six-feet of them for a total of 15 minutes or more during a 24-hour period, is notified and asked to quarantine.
Once students and staff have completed their required time away from campus, they are allowed to return.
The district said these measures are in addition to their preexisting policies of physical distancing, frequent sanitization of common areas and surfaces and the use of face coverings when inside school buildings.
A message from the district superintendent said vaccines have started being administered to teachers and support staff.
Coinciding with of all the COVID-19 cases at the high school, the district is now also having to pull more teachers into the classrooms. The superintendent when possibly, teachers who had indicated they would prefer to work from home were accommodated.
However, Prince George High School’s schedule had 76 class periods where in-person learners were being taught by teachers working virtually. Some of these classrooms were completely without in-person supervision if the teacher was working from an offsite location. These classes had to be covered by one of the 50 teachers working in-person and also teaching their own classes.
Superintendent Lisa Pennycuff said this situation was not fair or equitable for the in-person students or teachers losing planning time to cover classrooms. She added the district has taken “corrective action” and will be asking some virtual teachers to return to teach in-person.
Following the decision to have some virtual teachers return, students released a petition on Change.org titled “Save Prince George County’s Teachers.” The petition claims teachers are being forced to return and voices concerns for teachers who are high-risk or have high-risk family members.
“This new ‘policy’ has put many staff members in uncomfortable situations where their only options are resigning or going back into the building where they aren’t safe, and that isn’t fair,” the petition states.
Pennycuff’s statement said the district is working to meet teacher’s individual needs and that taking Family Medical Leave remains an option for anyone with “significant health conditions.”
She voiced support for the student’s efforts to voice their concerns and said all of the information about the changes had not initially been made available to the students.