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COVID-19 impacts Ridgecroft School

AHOSKIE – Middle and high school students at Ridgecroft School will transition to virtual learning for two weeks after confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Ridgecroft officials said on Tuesday of this week that six students and one staff member have tested positive for the virus since the opening of the new school year on Aug. 18.

“The positive cases resulted in a significant number of students who were possibly exposed to the virus either through their academic classes or athletic events,” said Ridgecroft Headmaster Russell Johnson in a press release sent Thursday afternoon.

“School administration along with the Board of Directors and [the] local health department made the decision to transition middle school and upper school classes to virtual learning for 14 days, allowing the middle school and upper school classrooms to be completely sanitized,” Johnson added.

Amy C. Underhill, Public Health Education Supervisor at Albemarle Regional Health Services, said on Thursday that ARHS Communicable Disease staff are working with Ridgecroft personnel to provide support and education regarding potential COVID related cases.

“ARHS continues to provide education on key mitigation strategies that have been proven to reduce the spread of the virus including wearing a mask, maintaining distance when possible, hand washing and sanitation. We also continue to encourage individuals who are sick to stay home and follow isolation and quarantine guidelines,” Underhill stated.

According to Johnson, Ridgecroft opened for in-person instruction last week with a modified mask policy in place. That policy required all students and staff to wear faces coverings in public areas on campus when social distancing was not possible.

Johnson said that on Monday (Aug. 23), Ridgecroft administration notified parents that a new mask policy would go into effect the next day (Tuesday, Aug. 24) requiring face coverings in the building at all times for K-12 students and staff.

“While we were hopeful COVID-19 policies and procedures ended with the 2020-2021 school year, it is evident that in order to keep students and staff on campus, Ridgecroft must continue implementing various prevention strategies as we begin the 2021-2022 school year,” Johnson noted. “We know students benefit from in-person learning and we feel that implementing the following guidelines will help keep our students and staff healthy and on campus.”

Johnson added that these guidelines were established with the help of school administration, board members and local health agencies.

“At this time, the Strong Schools NC Public Health Tool Kit and NC Independent Schools Athletic Association COVID-19 policies are in place as strong suggestions and not mandates,” Johnson said. “We used both of these documents to help develop our guidelines at Ridgecroft.”

The headmaster added that all guidelines are subject to change at any time and that any changes will be dated and emailed to parents and staff in a timely fashion. These guidelines apply to all staff and students K-12. Ridgecroft Preschool is a state licensed child care facility that follows separate guidelines.

The guidelines include:

Vaccinated and unvaccinated students and staff are required to wear face coverings inside the school building at all times.

Face coverings are not required outside.

Face coverings are not required when eating/drinking.

Face coverings should cover the nose and mouth.

Face coverings are not required for outside sports (athletes or spectators).

Face coverings are required for any inside sport athlete who is not actively participating in the game. All athletes inside, on the bench are required to wear a face covering.

Face coverings are required for all inside sport spectators.

If a student or staff members tests positive for COVID-19, the individual must remain in isolation for 10 days from the day of the positive test. The individual who tests positive for COVID-19 may return to school when he/she can answer “yes” to all three of these questions: Has it been 10 days since your positive test? Have you been without fever for 24 hours without any medicine for fever? Have your other symptoms improved?

Quarantine is required for any student/staff member who is considered a “close contact” of someone who tests positive for COVID-19. Teachers are required to keep accurate seating charts for their classes and the front office will also keep a copy of these seating charts to assist with any tracing.

A “close contact” will not quarantine if he/she is fully vaccinated (must be able to present proof of vaccination to school administration).

A “close contact” will not quarantine if he/she tested positive with COVID-19 within the past 3 months (must be able to present medical documentation the individual tested positive within the past 3 months).

Any “close contact” who is required to quarantine will do so for 10 days as long as no symptoms are reported during this time.

School administration will not screen students at morning drop off. Families are responsible for self-monitoring.

Johnson emphasized that no visitors will be allowed in the school building during the school day. Additionally, classrooms will continue to be sanitized each day. Upon their return to the classroom, middle school and upper school students are expected to help teachers sanitize desks and chairs before transitioning into another class period/class room.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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