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Staff at Shirley Heim Middle School test positive; Caroline man dies from COVID-19

Staff at Shirley Heim Middle School test positive; Caroline man dies from COVID-19

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An unspecified number of staff members at Shirley Heim Middle School in Stafford County have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a letter school principal Mary Grace McGraw sent to employees Monday evening.

Stafford County Public Schools spokeswoman Sandra Osborne–Peters said Tuesday the division is not disclosing how many employees are affected to “protect staff privacy.”

Meanwhile, a Caroline County man has died from the virus, becoming the 52nd COVID-19 fatality in the Rappahannock Area Health District. He was in his 60s, Black, and one of eight people in that age group to die from the virus. Most of the fatalities—38 of the 52—have been among people who were 70 and older, but six of those who died were in their 40s and 50s.

The Shirley Heim staff members are isolating at home and will remain there until their symptoms improve and it has been at least three days since any fever and at least 10 days since the onset of symptoms, the letter states.

Shirley Heim administration learned about the positive test results Monday afternoon. Facilities staff conducted electrostatic cleaning of the building Monday evening.

“Though we understand this may cause some uneasiness, the overall risk of exposure to the majority of staff in the facility is low,” McGraw wrote in the letter. “In accordance with our health plan, SCPS Health Services or the Virginia Department of Health will contact any employees who we believe may have had close contact with the infected staff members. Close contact is defined as contact within six feet over a 15-minute period.”

All division staff are being asked to complete a COVID-19 symptom questionnaire every day before reporting to work. Employees who don’t feel well are encouraged to stay at home.

New Stafford teachers reported to their schools Monday for a week of professional training. Returning teachers report next week and virtual instruction for all students—except those in certain exempted categories—begins Aug. 31.

Health district officials have seen increases in people exposed at the workplace since many people returned to jobs in early July as part of the state’s phased reopening, said spokesperson Allison Balmes–John. Those in public health continue to urge people to stay home from work if they are sick, even if they are showing mild symptoms.

Balmes–John also encouraged employees at work to continue to practice social distancing, wear a mask when around others and wash their hands frequently.

Adele Uphaus–Conner:

540/735-1973

auphaus@freelancestar.com

@flsadele

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