VIRGINIA BEACH, Va (WAVY) — Virginia Beach City Public Schools is changing its COVID-19 quarantine policy. Starting Monday, Dec. 6, high school students will no longer be required to quarantine if they’ve been exposed to someone who tests positive for the coronavirus.
The school district made the decision in collaboration with the Virginia Beach Health Department.
Interim Health Director Dr. Nancy Welch told WAVY the local data, data specific to Virginia Beach tells them it’s safe and that kids greatly benefit from in-school learning.
“The data has shown us we can walk that path safely and keep the children in school which is so vitally… vitally important by eliminating the quarantine,” Welch said.
Local data shows COVID-19 is not spreading much at all in Beach high schools.
Virginia Beach Health District School Epidemiologist Joshilyn Binkley explained the change.
“Less than 1% of everyone who has an exposure in the school goes on to test positive it’s actually only .07% so a very low rate,” she said.
Binkley added, “We think that can largely be attributed to the large vaccination rate among this group in Virginia Beach — it’s over 60%.”
About 800 students have missed class due to quarantines this year and school officials say that can come at a cost to students academics.
“Those individuals were missing on average five days of in-person instruction,” VBPS Chief of Staff Don Robertson told WAVY. He said it also benefits their mental health to be in school. “When students are attending school and involved with their peers and doing things like that they’re much more happy.”
Students and staff must continue wearing masks and health officials will continue contact tracing and tracking the new omicron variant.
Welch said she is not concerned about the omicron variant as far as this new policy is concerned.
“The masking will prevent the transmission,” she said.
Transmission rates in middle and elementary schools are higher than high school, so the quarantine remains at those levels.
Health officials say they’ll continue to track those immunization numbers in the younger children and
along with data from the high school they will evaluate whether to suspend quarantine for younger kids too.