With entire classes under quarantine, ACPS to discuss COVID measures in Virtual Town Hall

Late last week, a third grader at Jefferson-Houston School was exhibiting COVID symptoms. By Sunday her mother received positive test results, and that evening she sent word to the school that her daughter was infected with the virus.

The next day was a bit of a scramble at the school, as the parents of all of the students in her daughter’s class were called to pick up their children and told that the kids needed to quarantine for two weeks.

“I’m glad we’re back five-days-a-week of in-person school, but I don’t think there was any plan for when kids started to get sick,” the mother said. “I didn’t certainly didn’t expect all of the kids, the entire class plus the teacher to be sent home, but we knew that certain kids would need to, who were exposed and close contacts would need to join the class virtually.”

There are reportedly a number of full classes at Jefferson-Houston under quarantine, although Alexandria City Public Schools would not comment on the number.

Today (Thursday) at 4 p.m., ACPS is hosting a virtual town hall with the Alexandria Health Department to discuss health-related measures in schools.

The school system’s COVID-19 Dashboard shows 46 positive cases reported since school started, and ACPS says that the number of students in quarantine will be added to the dashboard in the coming weeks.

“My daughter’s got her little pod in her classroom for four kids that she sits next to, but anytime they go to a different elective, anytime they go to lunch, they’re all in different seating arrangements,” the mother of the infected student said. “Seating arrangements aren’t uniform for these kids, so I’m really worried that these kids aren’t going to be in school at all this year, if all it takes is one case to shut down the entire class for two weeks at a time.”

On Monday, parents in a class under quarantine at Jefferson-Houston received a note from a teacher explaining how the next two weeks would go. The teacher wrote that students will learn virtually from 8 to 11 a.m.

“Today was very interesting and I’m sure a little stressful,” the teacher wrote. “Here is what I know thus far. The students and I are to quarantine until September 23, 2021… I will do my best to help this quarantine run smoothly. Thank you all in advance for your support, patience, and understanding as we navigate our new normal.”

ACPS says that uniform seating is in place for students, and that there is a plan for numerous quarantine scenarios.

“Students are grouped in pods to the highest extent possible at the elementary school level, keeping the same groups of students together at all times,” ACPS told ALXnow in an email. “Students are also assigned seats in classes so that even if they are in multiple classes each day, such as at our secondary schools, they are always in the same space within a classroom.”

The school system also says that it is actively hiring substitute teachers, and that all unvaccinated staffers are required to submit weekly COVID tests.