By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Sept. 16 — On Thursday, Dr. Antonia Fox issued notices of two more school closures in Page County due to confirmed cases of COVID-19 and quarantining due to exposure. Three of the county’s nine school sites were shut down this week, just 19 school days into the 2021-22 school year.
Luray Middle School and Luray Elementary will be shut down immediately for one week, according to a Sept. 16 letter sent to parents by the superintendent. The two Luray schools now join Shenandoah Elementary, which was shut down as of Wednesday after a notification was sent out Sept. 14.
“Luray Middle School has experienced a significant number of positive COVID-19 cases amongst both students and staff over the past week. There are currently many students and staff who have COVID-19 symptoms who have been quarantined or isolated due to exposure,” Dr. Fox stated in today’s letter. “Given this information and in conjunction with the Lord Fairfax Health Department, Page County Public Schools (PCPS) has made the difficult decision to close Luray Middle School through Wednesday, September 22, 2021. Students will return to in-person instruction on Thursday, September 23, 2021.”
Identical letters were sent to the parents of students at both schools, with the announcement for Luray Elementary School noting the same dates for closure and return.
“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,” both letters stated. “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.”
Students at both LMS and LES may pick up any needed learning materials (Chromebooks, textbooks, paper packets, etc.) from noon to 6 p.m. tomorrow, Sept. 17 at the school.
Middle school students will be provided with daily live instruction and use Schoology to access other learning materials. 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 a student has previously received learning materials for this closure, then no further action is needed.
Elementary school students in grades PreK through 2nd will be provided packets and Class Dojo videos to support instruction. Students in grades 3rd through 5th will be provided with daily live instruction and use Schoology to access other learning materials. 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 this closure, then no further action is needed.
As of Thursday, the PCPS COVID dashboard showed 60 active cases of COVID-19 in Page County Public Schools, 44 among students and 16 among staff. The school division has reported a total of 109 cases of the virus — and many more quarantined due to exposure — since opening Aug. 23.
Below is a breakdown of COVID-19 cases reported in PCPS in the last 19 school days (as of Thursday, Sept. 16):
• 23 cases — Luray Middle — 5 still active (4 students and 1 staff);
• 19 cases — Page Middle — 12 active (9 students, 3 staff);
• 19 cases — Luray High — 8 active (7 students, 1 staff);
• 18 cases — Shenandoah Elementary — 12 active (8 students, 4 staff);
• 13 cases — Page County High — 12 active (9 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. — 2 active (2 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.
The Virginia Department of Health has reported 74 new cases of COVID-19 in Page County in just the past three days, including 32 cases reported on Wednesday. Page’s positivity rate sits at 17.1 percent, while the percentage of the population that is fully vaccinated is just 39.4 percent.
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.”
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 Luray Community.”
Keep up with PCPS notices at https://www.pagecounty.k12.va.us/o/pcps