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Hardy Elementary employee quarantined

A Hardy Elementary School employee is in a 14-day quarantine as a result of coming into close contact with someone outside of work who tested positive for COVID-19. 

But in-person instruction at Hardy will continue for students in grades PreK-3, according to a letter Isle of Wight County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim Thornton sent to parents Sept. 17.

“We understand this news is concerning and want to share our efforts to keep students and staff safe, healthy and in school,” Thornton said. “You will receive additional information should this individual test positive for COVID-19.”

Thornton then advised parents to continue to monitor their children’s health and the health of their family members for COVID-19 symptoms, which he said have generally included mild, cold-like symptoms in children, such as fever, runny nose and coughing.

“People without symptoms do not need to seek care or be tested,” Thornton said, referring to updated guidance the U.S. Centers for Disease Control issued in August, which no longer recommends that asymptomatic individuals get tested — even if they’ve been recently exposed to the virus.

An August Harvard University study, however, found that while children who contract COVID-19 are not as likely to become as seriously ill as adults, even asymptomatic children can spread the infection in their homes and schools. According to the study’s authors, even seemingly healthy children in some cases had higher viral loads in their airways than adults hospitalized in intensive care units, meaning they are more contagious regardless of their susceptibility to developing COVID-19 symptoms.

If a student does test positive, Thornton asks that parents inform their child’s school.

“This information will be kept confidential,” he assured.

Division Spokeswoman Lynn Briggs said to her knowledge no Hardy students are in quarantine, just the one employee.

A special called School Board meeting on possibly expanding in-person instruction beyond grades PreK-3 is scheduled for Sept. 30, which Briggs confirmed is still on.

I’m sure the number of positive cases, exposures to positive cases, as well as those isolating with COVID-19-like symptoms will all be part of the discussion and decision making process for any changes to the in-person continuum,” she said.