VDH Has a New K-12 “Outbreaks” Dashboard

by Carol J. Bova

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) published a new dashboard on October 23 that lists K-12 Outbreaks of COVID-19 by locality (county, town or city) and facility. As the VDH website explains: “Transmission must occur within the school facility or at a school-sponsored event among students, faculty, staff, or visitors to be classified as a school-associated outbreak.”

Schools covered are public, private, charter or parochial schools from kindergarten to 12th grade, and pre-kindergarten, if part of a K-12 school if 30 or more students are enrolled. Fewer than five cases or deaths are suppressed. Cases from exposure outside the school setting are not included unless the virus is passed on to someone at the school.

The dashboard lists the date VDH was notified, the school, number of cases, deaths should any occur, and the status of the outbreak. Outbreaks are listed as “In Progress” until 28 day elapse without a new case. They are then marked as “Pending Closure” until the local Health Department officially closes the outbreak.

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) lists 1,860 public K-12 schools, and 1.298 million students for the 2019-2020 year. The VDOE does not maintain statistics on private schools, but the Virginia Council for Private Education lists 472 accredited schools.

The Outbreaks tab on the VDH website, shows a total of 36 outbreaks with 174 cases. Only 25 from 19 localities are shown on the first posting of the Educational Outbreaks Dashboard. Two of these 25 are in progress, the others are closed or pending closure. The earliest outbreak listed was reported on April 10th, the most recent, October 9th, so it is likely the other 11 outbreaks are more recent. VDH will update the dashboard weekly.

Date VDH Notified Locality Facility Cases
10/1/20 Alexandria Episcopal High School *
9/24/20 Bedford Stewartsville Elementary School *
4/10/20 Buchanan Mountain Mission School 17
9/11/20 Campbell Altavista Elementary School *
8/6/20 Caroline Caroline High School *
9/18/20 Chesapeake Atlantic Shores Christian School *
8/16/20 Chesapeake Plan Bee Academy *
9/18/20 Chesapeake Stonebridge School 10
9/22/20 Chesterfield Clover Hill Elementary School *
9/4/20 Chesterfield Richmond Christian School 5
9/10/20 Dickenson Ridgeview High School *
9/24/20 Dinwiddie Centra Rivermont School of Greater Petersburg 5
8/4/20 Fauquier C.M. Bradley Elementary School *
9/11/20 Goochland Benedictine Schools of Richmond *
9/18/20 Hanover Kersey Elementary School *
9/7/20 Hanover Liberty Middle School 8
10/9/20 Henry Meadow View Elementary School *
8/28/20 Lee Lee High School 10
8/28/20 Lee St. Charles Elementary School *
8/10/20 Loudoun Dominion High School *
9/22/20 Lynchburg Rivermont School 5
9/17/20 Staunton Grace Christian School 19
7/4/20 Virginia Beach Cox High School *
9/14/20 Wise Union Middle School 5
9/15/20 Wise Union Primary School *

If the K-12 numbers remain low, we can hope it will lead to a full reopening of our K-12 schools.

Carol J. Bova is a writer living in Mathews County.

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7 responses to “VDH Has a New K-12 “Outbreaks” Dashboard

  1. Kudos to the Virginia Department of Health for making this data transparent. This gives us a much clearer handle on the extent to which the virus is spreading in Virginia’s schools.

    Permit me to make a preliminary observation. Given the fact that Virginia has more than 2,000 schools, the number of viral outbreaks seems remarkably small and the number of cases remarkably low. The fact i, children are less susceptible than the general population to catching and spreading the virus. I can see no justification for the widespread school closures.

    The appropriate solution, it would seem to me, is to maintain a careful testing regime. If there’s an outbreak, that’s when the school should close. After an appropriate time of students isolating at home, the school should reopen. The idea of proactively shutting down in-person learning on the chance that an outbreak might occur is just atrocious.

    • One does wonder for all the schools in Virginia – how the breadkdown between full time in-person and virtual and hybrid works.

      If all schools re-opened fully – would the number of outbreaks increase?

      Also – knowing the breakdown of infections of staff versus kids – versus – at kids homes, etc.

      I totally agree about the testing. The way to open the schools and keep them open is to quickly identify the infected and their contacts and separate those folks from the uninfected.

      We’ve still got a ways to go because a vaccine is coming.

    • Schools should be divided into cohorts. A cohort is a group of students that “travels together” throughout the school day. They attend the same classes, eat lunch at the same time, etc. If there is an outbreak then the cohort is sent into quarantine while students in the other cohorts are tested.

      Also useful from VDH would be hospitalizations, ventilator needs and deaths.

      • I agree but the key is testing. It’s the difference between one or two qickly found and isolated and a much bigger/wider outbreak.

        Right now, scientists are testing wastewater for covid.

        They can isolate right down to a building … one test for many people – if negative, no need to test anyone. If positive then targeted testing.

        We have not been very “smart” about this in part because we did not understand it well as well as a lack of agreement/consensus on whether it needed testing, contact tracing, masks, etc… Without consensus and leadership – we’re adrift with each school having to decide it’s own approach without real support from the government on things they cannot easily do themselves.

  2. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    This is good. A big step towards learning how to live with Covid. Life has changed but life must be lived.

  3. Posting this , not sure I’ve seen it before:

    ” Because state officials verify death certificates to make sure those identified as COVID-19 fatalities meet the criteria, weeks may go by before a person’s death is reported on the state website, according to public health officials. That happened on Wednesday, when three of the six new deaths reported actually occurred last month.”

    Oct 26 Free Lance Star – ” Local death toll from the virus reaches 88″

    Our Region is over 300,000 population.

  4. And this separate article from the same day Free Lance Star:

    “New CDC guidance on ‘close contacts’ in COVID-19 cases could affect schools

    The local health department says new guidance from the CDC that changes the definition of who is a “close contact” of someone with COVID-19 could increase the number of people in schools and certain workplaces considered at risk of contracting the disease.

    The CDC released the new guidance last week. The new definition of a “close contact,” according to the CDC and the Virginia Department of Health, is someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.

    Previously, the definition of a close contact was someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for 15 consecutive minutes, said Allison Balmes–John, a spokesperson for the Rappahannock Area Health Department.

    “RAHD anticipates that we may see an increase in the number of close contacts for each new case as a result of this updated definition, at least as the community adjusts to this new guidance,” Balmes–John wrote in an email. “Particularly for certain settings, such as schools and certain workplaces, the new definition may now include individuals with which an infected person has repeated short contacts, as opposed to the previous definition which was one more prolonged period.”

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