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IW schools debut COVID-19 dashboard

Six students enrolled in Isle of Wight County public schools and three employees have tested positive for COVID-19 over the past four weeks, according to a division-wide dashboard the school system launched Nov. 24.

Another 65 students and 10 employees have entered quarantine during that same timeframe after coming into close contact with an individual in the community or the school system who had tested positive. The dashboard doesn’t specify the school buildings with which the infected or quarantined students and staff are affiliated.

The dashboard can be viewed at: https://www.iwcs.k12.va.us/apps/pages/covid19dashboard.

“The purpose of the IWCS COVID-19 Dashboard is to provide our families and staff with a transparent summary of COVID-19 cases,” said division spokeswoman Lynn Briggs. “The Dashboard will be updated weekly.”

The dashboard data currently spans from Oct. 26 — the first day high schoolers returned for in-person learning — through Nov. 21. Despite the nine total positive cases division-wide among staff and students, the Virginia Department of Health isn’t currently listing Isle of Wight County Schools among the public and private school systems reporting a COVID-19 outbreak.

The health department’s statewide dashboard was last updated on Nov. 20 and new data is released weekly on Fridays.

The Virginia Department of Health defines an outbreak as at least two confirmed cases of COVID-19 where people are linked by a common exposure to a sick person, setting, event and time period.

Asked why the division waited until late November to launch its COVID-19 dashboard, rather than launching it at the start of the school year, Briggs said the division had waited until all grade levels were back in their classrooms and had wanted a few weeks worth of data after that date.

As of Oct. 27, 3,092 of the division’s roughly 5,400 students had returned to their classrooms for in-person learning two days a week on an alternating schedule.

Of these, roughly 1,200 are high school students. About 500 middle school students returned on Oct. 19 and Oct. 20. Elementary students were the first to return on Sept. 8. The families of another 2,321 students had opted to keep their children on virtual learning through the end of the first semester.

The reason the dashboard only gives a division-wide total of confirmed positive cases and quarantines rather than breaking that figure down by school is because doing so could “possibly cause identification of individuals,” Briggs said.

“Several schools have small numbers of students and staff … It also gives a comprehensive look at where we are as a division for positive cases and quarantined individuals for both students and staff,” she added.

Isle of Wight County Schools is continuing to emphasize what it’s termed the “three W’s:” wear your mask, wash your hands and watch your distancing, Briggs said. Numerous mitigation measures have been implemented in all division schools, including hand sanitizing stations in hallways, Plexiglas shields in specific areas and increased cleaning of high-touch areas throughout buildings.