By Randy Arrington
SHENANDOAH, Sept. 15 — Late Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Antonia Fox, superintendent of Page County Public Schools, announced that Shenandoah Elementary School will be closed until Tuesday, Sept. 21 due to a high number of COVID-19 cases in the building.
“Shenandoah Elementary School has experienced a significant number of positive COVID-19 cases amongst both
students and staff over the past week, but especially in the last two days,” reads a Sept. 14 letter from Dr. Fox. “There are currently many students and staff who have COVID-19 symptoms who have been quarantined or isolated due to exposure. These positive cases and the large number of exposures have caused us to close several classrooms recently.”
As of Wednesday morning, the PCPS COVID dashboard showed 12 active cases of COVID-19 at Shenandoah Elementary, eight among students and four among staff. The school has reported a total of 15 cases since the beginning of the school year, which is only the third-highest total among the county’s nine schools. However, about 40 fifth graders at Shenandoah were already in quarantine as of Monday.
“Given this information, and in conjunction with the Lord Fairfax Health Department, Page County Public Schools has made the difficult decision to close Shenandoah Elementary School until next Tuesday, September
21, 2021,” Dr. Fox’s letter reads. “Closing the school will allow us to decrease the spread and potential exposure for students, staff, and families, provide us with time to implement deep cleaning across all school spaces, and allow staff time to recover to be available to support student learning.”
After seeing eight cases of the virus surface in the first week of classes, the local school division has now reported 99 cases of COVID-19 after just 17 days into the 2021-22 school year. Among those cases, 63 are still active, including 46 cases among students and 17 among staff.
Below is a breakdown of COVID-19 cases reported in PCPS from Aug. 23 to Sept. 15:
• 22 cases — Luray Middle — 6 still active (5 students and 1 staff);
• 18 cases — Page Middle — 13 active (9 students, 4 staff);
• 15 cases — Shenandoah Elem. — 12 active (8 students, 4 staff);
• 15 cases — Luray High — 7 active (6 students, 1 staff);
• 13 cases — Page County High — 13 active (10 students, 3 staff);
• 8 cases — Luray Elem. — 7 active (4 students, 3 staff);
• 5 cases — Springfield Elem. — 1 active (1 student);
• 3 cases — Stanley Elem. — 3 active (3 students).
Cases among students at the Page County Technical Center were counted with the student’s home high school. There have been no reported COVID cases within the school division’s central office, but four cases have been reported in operations departments.
Parents are reminded to keep their children home from school if they are showing signs of being sick in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 or other illnesses.
“Over the next few days, we encourage everyone to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19,” Dr. Fox stated in her letter. “If symptoms do arise, it is recommended that you isolate and consult with your local health care provider for additional guidance. Throughout this week, PCPS will continue to evaluate the status of both our students and staff, and if additional action steps need to be taken, to include extending the closure, PCPS will communicate this in a timely manner.”
Students in grades PreK through second at Shenandoah Elementary may pick up their remote learning materials today (Wednesday) at the school between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Students in grades 3 through 5 should pick up their Chromebook (if they don’t already have it) at the school during the same time frame.
“Students in grades 3rd-5th will be provided with daily live instruction and use Schoology to access other learning materials,” Dr. Fox noted. “These live sessions will be recorded and uploaded to Schoology to be viewed at a later time for students who do not have Internet access. If your student has previously received learning materials for the remainder of this week, then no further action is needed.”
PCPS will be providing meals to families that would like them during the closure at Shenandoah Elementary.
“As a division, PCPS understands the incredible challenges a school closure creates for families,” Dr. Fox added. “This decision has been made with safety first and with a great deal of thought and care for everyone in the Shenandoah Community.”
Keep up with PCPS notices at https://www.pagecounty.k12.va.us/o/pcps