The Virginia Department of Health has recommended Amherst County Public Schools temporarily close all of its secondary schools starting Thursday due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
The closure, which lasts until Sept. 2, includes Amherst County High School, Amherst and Monelison middle schools, and the Amherst Education Center, according to a video announcement Wednesday evening from Superintendent Rob Arnold.
Elementary schools are unaffected, and elementary students should report to their schools at the normal time.
“A person who has tested positive for COVID-19 entered a building without notifying staff and is the source of many positive cases that has led to an outbreak and subsequent closure,” Arnold said.
Students must provide a negative COVID-19 test result before returning Sept. 2. Students who refuse can return Sept. 7. Students who test positive or show symptoms must contact their schools for a return date, Arnold said.
The VDH will provide a testing clinic in Amherst County schools Aug. 31; the location and time will be announced later.
Teachers will provide Google Meet links to students and will follow normal class schedules. Healthy students are expected to attend classes and attendance will be taken. Staff are expected to report as normal because the VDH believes staff can distance appropriately while conducting virtual learning, Arnold said.
Breakfast and lunch will be provided from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. daily at any secondary school.
In a subsequent announcement, the school division urged parents to monitor their children for COVID-19 symptoms and notify their child’s school if the child tests positive for COVID-19 or is exposed to it.
“It is important for you to understand that sending students to school who have been exposed to Covid-19 or have Covid-19 may unnecessarily expose students and staff and may lead to an outbreak in your student’s school. We need your help to keep our schools open,” the school system said.
Amherst County High School was closed temporarily Tuesday so officials could conduct contact tracing after “several” coronavirus cases were reported Monday evening, the school division previously said.