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This story has been updated to reflect new information.

After a Fauquier High School staff member was reported Tuesday to have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, two additional positive test results were reported Wednesday within the school division. A student at Fauquier High School and a staff member at Mary Walter Elementary School each tested positive, according to emails sent Wednesday to parents and staff members at both schools.

The three emails sent to parents and staff members are almost identical. Each email contained the phrase, “While this incident appears to be isolated, we must remain vigilant in washing our hands, social distancing and wearing masks. All students and staff must complete a self-health assessment daily before reporting to school.”

The vast majority of public school students in the county had been receiving instruction remotely this semester until Monday, when the school division implemented its “hybrid” instruction model. More than two-thirds of Fauquier County’s more than 10,000 public school students begin attending in-person classes this week.

Of the students whose parents opted for in-person instruction for the remainder of the semester, half from each school will attend classes in their school building Mondays and Tuesdays, with the other half of students attending Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays continue to be a remote-learning day for all students.

The school division’s COVID-19 online dashboard reflects each of the three cases reported this week. However, the dashboard does not indicate how many – if any – staff members and students were told not to come into the school building as a result of possible exposure. The dashboard also does not indicate if any classes were moved online because of possible exposure among students and teachers, or if there were any other potential disruptions to instruction.

As of 1:20 p.m. Wednesday, no classes had been moved online at Mary Walter because of the positive case there, according to school division spokeswoman Tara Helkowski.

Later, however, in response to more specific questions about the protocols implemented, Helkowski restated the school division’s policy not to release any information beyond at what school a case had been confirmed and on what date school administrators learned of the case.

Helkowski did not answer whether the Mary Walter staff member who had tested positive was told not to come into the building or whether other staff members or students had been told to quarantine as a result of possible exposure.

She also did not say whether school administrators had already reached out with guidance to Mary Walter staff members who worked closely with the individual who had tested positive. “[A]ny employees or students who were in close contact have been or will be contacted,” she said at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

“We will share any additional relevant information (such as a classroom closure) directly with the affected school community,” Helkowski said.

No classes at Fauquier High School had been moved online as of Wednesday morning as a result of the first positive case reported there, Helkowski said in response to an inquiry from the Fauquier Times.

Helkowski did not say how many people were told not to come into the school building as a result of possible exposure to the individual, adding, “Our health mitigation plan kept the number of identified close contacts small, and all identified close contacts were advised to quarantine for 14 days.” She said contact tracing and the notification of potentially exposed individuals is the responsibility of the health department.

Reach Coy Ferrell at cferrell@fauquier.com

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