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At a July 9 work session, school board member Stephanie Litter-Reber (Lee District) addresses a question to Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District epidemiologists April Achter and Daniel Farrell as fellow board member Suzanne Sloane (Scott District) looks on.

The annual Fauquier County school board retreat has been canceled “out of an abundance of caution due to COVID protocols,” School Board Clerk Ginger Farmer confirmed Wednesday. The retreat had been scheduled to take place Oct. 5 at Shenandoah National Park; school board members and school division administrators had been scheduled to attend.

An employee working at the administrative offices on the fourth floor of the Alice Jane Childs building in Warrenton tested positive for the novel coronavirus, it was confirmed Thursday, Sept. 24. The fourth-floor offices were then closed part of Thursday and reopened Monday, Sept. 28, a school board representative confirmed Thursday.

School board member Stephanie Litter-Reber (Lee District) elaborated Thursday on the decision to cancel the retreat. “It was canceled because of the positive COVID case on the 4th floor. Many of the staff responsible for planning and attending were/are quarantined.”

Board Chair Duke Bland (Marshall District) declined to comment on the decision and directed questions to the school board clerk.

As of 8:40 a.m. Wednesday, the Fauquier County Public Schools COVID-19 dashboard was reporting a total of two confirmed positive cases of the virus within the school system. In addition to the Sept. 24 case at the administrative offices, another case was confirmed at Fauquier High School the same day.

The dashboard does not report confirmed cases within the school system that occurred before Sept. 24 and does not specify whether the person who tested positive is a teacher, other staff member or student. It also does not specify how many, if any, staff members and students have been instructed not to come to a school building because of a possible exposure or how many are quarantined.

Last week, school board members voted unanimously to implement a “hybrid” instruction model beginning Nov. 9, which will allow students the option of attending in-person classes two days per week. Though most students are attending school remotely until Nov. 9, teachers have been required to report to work daily at their school buildings since the school year began Aug. 24.

Additionally, 114 special education students in self-contained classrooms and 45 students in a Virginia Preschool Initiative program are attending school in person as of Sept. 22. As of Sept. 7, there were also 161 children enrolled in day care programs operating in four county elementary schools by Fauquier Community Child Care.

Last month, there were six positive cases confirmed in Building B of the Central Office Complex and the building was closed for several days. It was not considered an “outbreak” by the Virginia Department of Health, however, because the tests taken by those affected were rapid tests, not PCR tests.

There was one outbreak at Bradley Elementary School that involved three staff members, announced on Aug. 6.

On Aug. 17, the school division confirmed one case at Coleman Elementary.

Another case at Fauquier High School was confirmed Aug. 25; this case does not appear on the school division’s online dashboard.

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