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5 more COVID-19 outbreaks reported at Prince William schools as quarantines, isolations rise

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But the Virginia Department of Health reported five more outbreaks at two additional Prince William County schools on Friday, including at Buckland Mills Elementary in Gainesville, which has four separate outbreaks – the highest number of any school in Virginia since the school year began. 

Meanwhile, the overall number of students and staff across the school division who are now isolating or quarantining due to COVID-19 rose about 25% from last week.

Also, some known COVID-19 outbreaks at local schools have still not yet been reported on the VDH dashboard, including the one at Bennett Elementary, where 305 students – or about 40% of the school’s enrollment -- were still isolating or quarantining at home as of Friday, Oct. 15. Of those students, 34  were in isolation due to a probable or positive case of COVID-19, while 271 were quarantining due to being close contacts, according to the school division’s COVID-19 dashboard.

Sean Morris, a COVID-19 epidemiologist for the Prince William Health District, said reporting and laboratory lags have delayed some school-based outbreaks from appearing on the VDH dashboard.

“All of the outbreaks have not been posted at this time,” Morris said Friday.

New, existing outbreaks

As of Friday, Oct. 15, the VDH was reporting eight outbreaks at four Prince William County schools, with the most recent occurring at Buckland Mills Elementary and at The Nokesville School, one of the county’s three K-8 schools.

At Buckland Mills Elementary, located in the Somerset Crossing subdivision in Gainesville, there are four separate outbreaks, all identified on Oct. 5. One involves seven cases while the other three involve fewer than five cases each, according to VDH.

Morris said schools can have multiple outbreaks if they occur in different classrooms or extracurricular settings but are otherwise unconnected.

“Due to the fact that students may be exposed to COVID in the community [and] then spread it at school, sometimes we have pockets of outbreaks that occur around the same time and at the same school but are not related to each other,” he said.

As of Friday, Oct. 15, Buckland Mills Elementary had fewer than 10 students isolating and 18 students quarantining, according to the school division’s COVID-19 dashboard.

The outbreak at The Nokesville School was first identified on Oct. 5 and involves seven cases, according to VDH.

As of Tuesday, Oct. 19, there were fewer than 10 students in isolation and quarantine at The Nokesville School, according to the school division's COVID-19 dashboard.

Other state-reported “outbreaks in progress” are occurring at Yorkshire Elementary, on Old Centreville Road in Manassas, where the state is reporting five cases, and at Sudley Elementary, near Splashdown Water Park, where the state is reporting 22 cases.

The school division is reporting fewer than 10 students isolating at both Sudley and Yorkshire, but the schools had 24 and 25 students, respectively, in quarantine, as of Oct. 15.

The outbreak at Potomac High School, which involved 11 cases, now an “outbreak pending closure,” meaning no related cases have been reported in the past 28 days, according to VDH.

Potomac High had fewer than five students in isolation or quarantine as of Friday, Oct. 15.

Overall isolations, quarantines rising across the school division

Across the county, the total number of students and staff in isolation or quarantining due to COVID-19 was on the rise last week after falling during the previous week.

As of Oct. 15, there were 48 staff members and 202 students isolating for having COVID-19, an increase of 37% and 25%, respectively, from one week ago.

At the same time, 16 staff members and 1,195 students were home quarantining due to an exposure to COVID-19, increases of 60% and 35%, respectively, from last week.

Prince William County schools with high numbers of students isolating or in quarantine as of Oct. 15 included:

  • Pennington Traditional, a K-8 school in Manassas, with 27 students isolating and 43 in quarantine;
  • Chris Yung Elementary, in Bristow, with10 students isolating and 38 in quarantine;
  • Rosa Parks Elementary, in Dale City, with fewer than 10 students isolating and 46 in quarantine; and
  • Minnieville Elementary, in Dale City, with fewer than 10 students isolating and 41 in quarantine.

Schools with more than 20 students in quarantine as of Oct. 15 included:

  • Rockledge Elementary, in Lake Ridge, with fewer than 10 students isolating and 34 in quarantine;
  • Springwoods Elementary, also in Lake Ridge, with fewer than 10 students isolating and 26 in quarantine;
  • Montclair Elementary, in Montclair, with fewer than 10 students isolating and 23 in quarantine;
  • Dumfries Elementary, in Dumfries, with fewer than 10 students isolating and 22 in quarantine;
  • Unity Braxton Middle School, in Manassas, with fewer than 10 students isolating and 26 in quarantine;
  • Graham Park Middle School, in Dumfries, with no students isolating and 23 in quarantine, and 
  • Beville Middle School, in Dale City, with no students isolating and 21 in quarantine.

Note: This story was updated on Oct. 19 with additional information about the outbreak at The Nokesville School.

Reach Jill Palermo at jpalermo@fauquier.com

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