Charles J. Colgan Sr. High School

Charles J. Colgan Sr. High School

Prince William County schools has recorded its first official “outbreak” of COVID-19, as defined by the Virginia Department of Health, at Charles J. Colgan Sr. High School. 

The outbreak at the mid-county area high school was first reported on the VDH dashboard on Friday, Jan. 22. It stemmed from COVID-19 cases first reported by Colgan High School back on Dec. 10. It’s not clear why the outbreak took six weeks to appear on the state health department’s website.

As of Tuesday, Jan. 26, Prince William County schools have reported a total of 1,418 COVID-19 cases among staff and students working both inside school buildings and virtually, according to the school division's COVID-19 dashboard.

The number of cases reported each month has risen steadily since the start of the school year, with 50 reported in September and 746 reported, so far, in January, according to the school division dashboard.

But despite the high number of cases, Prince William County school officials have pointed to the lack of an official outbreak as evidence that COVID-19 is not spreading in county schools.

The school division now has about 13,500 students attending schools in person, mostly two days a week. They include students in pre-K through third grade as well as some special education students and English language learners.

The school division requires all students to wear face coverings and to maintain social distancing in classrooms, hallways and on school buses. Students are also spread out in cafeterias, and many classroom desks have been affixed with plexiglass barriers. 

The VDH defines an outbreak as “two or more laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases" that occur within a 14-day period and "are epidemiologically linked, do not share a household, and were not identified as close contacts of each other in another setting during standard case investigation or contact-tracing.”

It’s not clear how many students or staff members tested positive for COVID-19 as a result of the Colgan High School outbreak. The number was not specified on the VDH website, meaning there were more than two cases but fewer than five.

The school division declined to disclose the exact number of cases at Colgan High School or how many students and staff were affected. The information would not be revealed because of privacy concerns, school division spokeswoman Diana Gulotta said in a Jan. 26 email. 

It’s also not clear how many students and staff members had to quarantine as a result of the outbreak. A Dec. 14 letter informing the Colgan community of the confirmed and probable cases that were later determined to be part of an outbreak said close contacts “have been notified and … will be in quarantine until the required quarantine time has been completed.”

Colgan letter COVID-19 outbreak

A Dec. 14 letter sent to Charles J. Colgan Sr. High School community regarding COVID-19 cases that were later determined to be an "outbreak," according to the Virginia Department of Health.

Gulotta declined to provide further details Tuesday regarding how many people were asked to quarantine or what other impacts the outbreak had on Colgan High School.

It’s also not clear whether the school division was aware of the outbreak before it was reported on the VDH website last Friday, Jan. 22.

The school division first reported the outbreak on its website on Tuesday, Jan. 26, which was also when Colgan High School Principal Tim Healey sent a letter notifying the school community of the outbreak.

Colgan letter regarding outbreak

A Jan. 26 letter sent by Charles J. Colgan Sr. High School Principal Tim Healey regarding the outbreak of COVID-19 at the school.

Asked if the school division has investigated how Colgan High School’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts fell short, resulting in the outbreak, Gulotta said only that the cases would be looked into.

“As with every COVID-19 case, members of our pandemic team review our protocols to determine what improvements can be made,” she wrote.

CORRECTION: This article has been updated to note that the number of students currently attending Prince William County schools in person is about 13,500, not 17,000, as was originally reported. The Times regrets the error.

Reach Jill Palermo at jpalermo@fauquier.com

You must be logged in to react.
Click any reaction to login.
0
0
0
0
0

Recommended for you

Recommended for you

(7) comments

Itswhatever

Not all children are required to wear masks. Especially for special needs children. If it is their IEP they are allowed not to wear masks and some just use face shields alone. Those numbers don't reflect the children whose parents dont disclose they have had covid. Multiple schools have had to shut down for two weeks as they quarantine due to someone testing positive.

Catharpin411

Hold on here, did I miss something?

They count BOTH kids I school and kids "going" to school virtually? Suggesting that all or a majority of these kids are sick at home and never got into school?

Ahhh. Dont we need real numbers not faux numbers?

So sick of China virus half truths.

The drug firms now say they wont make more vaccine because herd amunity is best.

You know herd amunity something that the last Admin got bashed over is now seen as THE answer.

Kids are doing crummy in the crummy schools that we overpay for with our taxes, thanks for silly low proffers and over building.

99% recovery rate...what is the recovery rate for the annual flu?

Mandate teachers go back to school or let them seek new jobs.

The purpose of school IS the kids education not some kowtow to the unions.

Hawkeye10

Manipulation of the Masses....just sign right here on your Social Security card, thank you for your birth-right and all your income!

Sic Semper Tyrannis

Bluto

Obviously the approach of wearing masks and social distancing is not very effective. Why not go full totalitarian. No one in schools, no one in supermarkets, no one at the mall, no one in their car, no one at work, etc. I know, let's stop all economic activity, eliminate all debt, open the borders (cause those who enter illegally do not bring any disease), and give everyone a guaranteed income.

Latest VA statistics show a death rate of 1.2% of confirmed and probable cases (6,174 divided by 483,326). Of that 90.6% (5,595) of deaths are individuals 60 and older.

This is where the focus should be.

Warrior

If PWCS has such great Covid mitigation measures in place, what failed at Colgan? Couldn’t this easily happen in any school? No one should be in the building until all teachers are vaccinated.

Hawkeye10

"No one should be in the building until all teachers are vaccinated."

Some warrior you are...You know, none of the "Covid mitigation measures" really matter unless someone is actually exhibiting symptoms. . The best and smartest frankly you can do is have high quality air filtration and perhaps UV sanitization for all kinds of viruses and bacteria for indoors, and ventilation when weather permits. No one, under any circumstances, should have to consent to any vaccine. Period. Its a choice. Interesting the pro-choice advocates dont stand with this one.

Has anyone thought twice about how dirty ones "face-covering" gets during the course of a day? For example, wearing a face covering into a restroom, and flushing the toilet, then using the sink....What about all the fecal bacteria that spreads around the restroom after flushing the toilet? All of that disperses into the air and onto the face-covering to just sit there and concentrate on a face-covering all day. Then you go to wash your hands, with your face close to the sink, where water and bacteria particles splash on to you. No signs or no mentioning of advising to remove your mask in a restroom....

This face-mask wearing nonsense is nothing more than a sinister ritual to control the masses. My question is, what will it be next?

Heeheeheeeeeee

[blink] listen, pro choice does not equal or have anything to do with vaccines. Vaccines are meant to protect people from illnesses and if you choose not to let your child get one because of the baseless theories, that makes you an anti vaxxer.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.