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Schools see dip in cases

Area schools seem to be seeing a similar downtrend in COVID-19 cases as the health district.

In Prince Edward and most surrounding counties, coronavirus cases have begun to slow, following national trends. Nearby hospitals have also seen a significant and welcome dip in COVID patients.

Local schools appear to be reporting a similarly encouraging scenario.

According to Prince Edward County Public Schools (PECPS) Superintendent Dr. Barbara Johnson, as of Tuesday, Oct. 12, the school district had recorded a cumulative total of 92 COVID-19 cases since classes began this year. The 92 confirmed cases consist of 32 elementary school students, eight elementary school staff members, 21 middle school students, six middle school staff members, 21 high school students and four high school staff.

While PECPS has seen the most significant increase in cases since the last school COVID update Sept. 23, Johnson said the school appears to thankfully be seeing a similar drop in cases compared to Prince Edward County and the health district as a whole, adding the school only saw seven new cases (five students and two staff) for the week ending Oct. 8.

She added due to safety precautions, the school did move to stop middle school soccer and cheerleading practice during this time. Two fourth grade classes were also quarantined in recent weeks.

“Kudos to the Senior cabinet, school administrators, teachers, staff, transportation, foodservice, maintenance, ABM, parents and most importantly our students for working together to provide a safe learning and working environment for everyone,” Johnson noted.

Buckingham County Public Schools (BCPS), according to Superintendent Dr. Daisy Hicks, may also hopefully be seeing a decline in cases. Buckingham is the only county in the health district currently observing an uptick in COVID-19 prevalence.

BCPS has had a total of 83 COVID-19 cases confirmed since the beginning of classes Aug. 9; 74 students and nine employees.

“We had only four cases last week and 11 cases the week before, so it is hopeful to say that we are seeing a decrease,” she said.

Hicks noted the school did have to quarantine the junior varsity football team in recent weeks, adding the district is also currently challenged by a lack of substitute teachers.

Cumberland County Public Schools (CuCPS) also appears to be observing a reduction in COVID-19 cases. The school system has seen a total of 54 virus cases among students and staff since classes began. Of those 54 cases, approximately 10 occurred since the last school COVID update Sept. 23. Seventeen of the 54 cases were identified in high school students, while 12 were confirmed in the middle school, 21 in the elementary school and four among staff.

Wednesday, Oct. 13, CuCPS Superintendent Dr. Chip Jones said the school district has noticed a reduction in cases to report, adding no whole buses, teams or classrooms have needed to be quarantined lately.

“I continue to appreciate the support of our families as well as everything that our entire school team is doing on a daily basis. Their dedication and Duke pride are amazing,” Jones said.

On Wednesday, Paul “Chance” Reynolds, Head of Fuqua School in Farmville, said the school was observing two active cases, one of which is a “breakthrough” case. Reynolds said both individuals are in isolation and doing well.

“With that said, we continue to be proud of the vigilant efforts of our families, faculty, staff and students to follow the guidelines provided by the Virginia Department of Health and the Piedmont Health District to help keep the virus at bay, both here on our campus and in our greater community,” Reynolds said.

“We are thrilled to see the declining numbers within our community, our commonwealth and our nation, and we hope and pray that these trends will continue in the coming months,” he added.