SHEN_SCHOOLS_COVID

Alyssa Moore, an instructional coach at W.W. Robinson Elementary School in Woodstock, texts car identification numbers to school personnel as parents line up to pick up their children at the school on Monday. The procedure has been implemented to comply with COVID-19 protocols to limit exposure.  COVID-19 cases have forced school closings this week at Central High School and Peter Muhlenberg Middle School, both in Woodstock, and Strasburg High School.

As the Lord Fairfax Health District reported another 32 COVID-19 cases on Monday, Shenandoah County Public Schools announced the third temporary school closure in the last four days.

On Friday, the school division switched Central High School in Woodstock back to virtual learning. On Sunday, Strasburg High School followed suit, and on Monday, Peter Muhlenberg Middle School in Woodstock also returned to a virtual format.

Schools Superintendent Mark Johnston said Monday that the three school closures happened because of staff shortages related to COVID-19. On Friday, he said in a news release that two staff members at Central High School had tested positive for COVID-19 and that several other staff members were directed by the Health Department to quarantine.

Johnston states in a Sunday email that Strasburg High School would switch to all virtual learning for at least a week as a result of COVID-19 related staff shortages.

A tweet from the school division on Monday noted that Peter Muhlenberg would “move to entirely virtual learning for at least the remainder of the week.”

It’s unclear where staff members were exposed to the virus, Johnston wrote in a Monday email.

“The fact that we have so few student cases would indicate that it is a community issue more than a school issue,” he wrote.

As of Monday, Shenandoah County had reported 924 cases, the second-highest number in the health district, which also covers Winchester and the counties of Clarke, Frederick, Page and Warren.

The highest is Frederick County, with 1,097 cases.

Since the pandemic started, the district has reported 3,674 cases, including 307 hospitalizations and 121 deaths, on the Health Department website at vdh.virginia.gov/surveillance-and-investigation/novel-coronavirus.

Around Virginia, the department recorded 690 new cases Monday, the lowest increase in more than a week, though this follows an additional 2,014 over the weekend. Throughout the pandemic, it has reported 166,828 cases, with 10,389 considered probable.

The state also reported 21 hospitalizations for a total of 11,882 (105 of them probable) and 24 deaths to total 3,457 (248 probable.)

Shenandoah schools had only recently returned to the classroom on Oct. 12 before shifting classes at Central High, Strasburg High and Peter Muhlenberg Middle back online. Students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade are attending four days a week, and older students are attending one day a week.

The school division’s website lists the county’s other seven public schools (three elementary schools, two middle schools, one high school and one technical school) as offering a hybrid learning schedule. All students have the option of going all-virtual this year.

Local cases

Frederick County has had 1,097 cases (up 12 cases), 76 hospitalizations (up one) and 13 deaths.

Shenandoah County has had 924 cases (up nine), 96 hospitalizations and 59 deaths.

Winchester has had 563 cases (up five), 40 hospitalizations and four deaths.

Warren County has had 520 cases (up three), 35 hospitalizations and 14 deaths.

Page County has had 457 cases (up two), 48 hospitalizations and 30 deaths.

Clarke County has had 113 cases (up one), 12 hospitalizations and one death.

Regional cases

Harrisonburg in the Central Shenandoah Health District has had 2,919 cases (up 12), 97 hospitalizations and 35 deaths.

Rockingham County, also in the Central Shenandoah Health District, has had 1,697 cases (up five), 124 hospitalizations and 25 deaths (up two).

Contact Josette Keelor at jkeelor@nvdaily.com